Scotland Aims to Save Wild Salmon by Planting Millions of Trees along Rivers

Scotland’s remotest rivers and streams will have millions of trees planted nearby so that wild salmon is protected from the disastrous effects of climate change.

Scientists have concluded that rivers and burns in the uplands and Highlands are too warm in the summertime for the wild Atlantic salmon as they go upstream for spawning season and thus, elevates the threat to their survival.

The Fisheries on the River Dee in Aberdeenshire, one of the most popular salmon fishing rivers, have planted 250,000 saplings along the crucial tributaries.

Ambitious Goal to Plant Million Trees & Provide the Needed Shade

The goal is to plant a million trees in Dee’s catchment by 2035. This will include aspen, Scots pine, willow, birch, native rowan, juniper, and hawthorn.

Back in 2018, Scotland had the lowest rod catch for salmon since recording started. Climatic change means the temperatures of the water in 70 percent of the salmon rivers were too warm for at least a day in that summer. 

The temperatures went over 23C, a temperature that causes changes in behavior and stress.

The Atlantic salmon prefers summer temperatures that are higher than 10C, but they can’t survive at 33C. 

The marine Scotland scientists discovered that only 35 percent of the rivers in Scotland have proper tree cover. 

Birch Tree Grove

The river director for the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board notes that these burns are rivers are the nursery for fish and the young fish impacted by the rise of temperatures will experience problems with feeding and rates of growth.

And, if the weather gets hotter, fish will begin to die. Similar programs for tree planting are happening throughout Scotland so that proper shade is enabled and the water’s temperature goes down.

Experts emphasize that these projects will better the health and biodiversity of rivers throughout the uplands and boost insect life, the fall of leaves, flood management, and the management of nutrients.

However, the climate forecasts clearly indicated that the temperatures will keep rising, even if governments do manage to reduce the heating to 1.5C.

They’ve recorded situations when the rivers’ temperatures approached critical levels for salmon and these are temperatures that salmon is unable to tolerate.

Trees are needed now so that shade is created and the negative effect is mitigated.

What Are the Factors that Lead to Dramatic Drop in Number of Wild Salmon?

This major decrease in the number of wild salmon is affected by several factors, including weirs, climate change, predation by seal populations, sea lice, bycatch by trawlers, and reduced river quality. 

Though the ministers of Scotland were proposing new methods for conservation, the slow pace of change is frustrating.

One cast fisher, Camryn Stewart who’s 14, says that her parents introduced her to fishing. This sport is targeting kids and women with the goal to expand participation in this sport and its attractiveness.

According to Stewart, she fishes with three other girls her age and says she doesn’t feel like a revolutionary. She’s always been around people who fish and she’s wanted to do it since a young age. She believes more fishers are needed, not just kids and women. 

Fishing offers plenty of benefits, including spending time outdoors. Even when fishers don’t catch anything, they return home with a full heart.