The Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust has been awarded grants from Scottish National Heritage to plant trees in its catchments in order to keep watercourses cool.
The climate emergency has received a lot of media attention recently. In December a record nighttime high temperature was recorded of 16 degrees. A warming world means that the temperatures are rising in our rivers, burns and lochs, resulting in problems for our aquatic life.
This brings us to the questions “What can we do to combat climate change?” Cutting our carbon emissions has been widely discussed and it is now a part of government policy. However, there are other actions we can take.
Peatland is a major carbon store, which has been degraded over the years by drainage. This has been done for agriculture, forestry and to a lesser extend peat extraction to use as fuel. Restoring these areas by blocking historical drainage ditches would allow them to store more carbon, and therefore to fight climate change.
We can help combat climate change by planting trees in narrow strips right beside the rivers. When trees grow to their full size they will provide shade, which will help keep the rivers cool during a bright summer day. Scientists at Marine Scotland’s Freshwater Laboratory in Pitlochry have been using temperature loggers across Scotland to record river temperatures, and to model how these are likely to increase under climate change conditions. From this work we now have a tool that can inform us where planting trees will benefit rivers the most and provide shade to keep watercourses cool. The outputs from the Scottish River Temperature Monitoring Network can be viewed online .
Scientists have been recording river temperatures across Scotland to model how these are likely to increase under climate change conditions
Recently the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust along with Galloway and Argyll Fishery Trusts have been awarded grants from Scottish National Heritage (SNH) Biodiversity Challenge Fund to plant trees in their catchments. In the Kyle we are planting 5000 trees in the River Tirry area on land owned by Forestry and Land Scotland, who have also given assistance during the process. This will benefit fish species such as salmon and trout, but also freshwater pearl mussels which are present in the area. Pearl mussels are a filter feeder, and adults can filter up to 50 liters of water a day, keeping water clear for other species. We thank SNH for the funding and hope to facilitate more projects to help the community combat climate change in the future.
by Sean Robertson