The Galloway Fisheries Trust (GFT) work on salmon population in SW Scotland. The main limiting factor in freshwater for Atlantic salmon populations in Galloway is acidification, which affects five significant river systems and impacts over 200km of running waters locally and is largely been caused by changes in upland land use. The main impact is through recruitment failure i.e. the death of salmon eggs prior and during hatching.
This acidification is caused by a combination of factors; poorly buffered underlying geology, acid rain and the large scale afforestation (with Sitka spruce) of the Galloway uplands which degraded (drained) peatlands and enhanced ‘scavenging’ of pollutants by conifers. Water quality has improved (and salmon returned) to some sub-catchments recently following targeted peatland restoration (drain blocking, hag re-profiling) and restructuring of surrounding conifer forests to higher environmental standards (e.g. wider buffer zones, tree species diversification, use of silt traps) but more needs to be done. Partnership working has been important.
This project will inform, educate and provide information to encourage land managers to undertake actions to recover water quality and salmon populations in SW Scotland. It will encourage partnership working and sharing knowledge.
GFT are producing online interactive river catchment maps (accessible through GFT website) for each of the five rivers which will detail the status of salmon populations across the river and streams (as absent / healthy / struggling), where acidification is affecting water courses and map roughly the key areas where peatland restoration / forestry restructuring is desirable to improve water quality to allow salmon to spawn again naturally. New website pages will explain / outline what land managers / foresters locally can do to aid salmon / water quality (these will link back to the interactive map).
GFT will run an event to promote the new interactive maps / web site information to interested parties and stakeholders.