The protection and restoration of good water quality and habitats is essential when working to restore healthy native fish populations.
GFT has, for many years, been working across the waters of Galloway to identify and improve degraded habitats. Increasing the climate resilience of local waters to climate change impacts is a priority. Climate change is raising water temperatures, increasing the magnitude and frequency of flood events and causing drier summers.
It is important to consider work programmes at a catchment level, particularly when looking for the causes of degraded habitats. Detailed catchment-wide habitat surveys (GFT have completed full catchment surveys on most rivers in Galloway) help identify, describe and quantify the severity of degraded habitat. Information gained from the surveys allows a list of remedial works to be prioritised which considers where maximum benefit can be gained for the available spend.
Habitat restoration works can be divided into four main types:
Work to improve water quality has focussed on addressing acidification through improving forest design plans (e.g. wider buffer zones and removal of riparian conifers including natural regen), removing conifers from deep peats and from high altitudes (>300 m above sea level) and undertaking peatland restoration.
Riparian zones bridge the gap between land and river, creating an important habitat for insects while also providing shade and protection against erosion. We do a lot of habitat work mainly to help aquatic species like fish, but we are keen to monitor and understand the wider biodiversity benefits.