Million tree project launched in bid to conserve wild fish

Tens of thousands of native trees have been planted on a Sutherland estate as part of a wild fish conservation project.

Atlantic Salmon Trust is working with the Duke of Westminster-owned Grosvenor's Reay Forest Estate on a 10-year project to restore habitats and boost numbers of Atlantic salmon and sea trout.

The fish spawn in the area's River Laxford.

Trees can play a part in keeping rivers cool and also provide habitat for insects fish feed on, while fallen leaves are a source of nutrients.

More than 70,000 trees, the first of up to a million, have been planted across 198 acres (80ha).

Aspen, birch, hawthorn, holly, oak and rowan are among the species involved.

The planting is part of Project Laxford.

It has support from Scottish government directorate Marine Scotland and West Sutherland Fisheries Trust.

Conservation charity Atlantic Salmon Trust said salmon and trout in the Laxford, and some other Scottish rivers, have been declining.

The Laxford is the trust's first river catchment-scale restoration project, and covers the river from its source to where it enters the sea.


Grosvenor’s Reay Forest Estate lead forester, Dan Amos, said it was hoped the native trees would help the Laxford's riverside habitat to "thrive".

He said: "The land was planted with non-native species in the 1950s to be managed commercially, creating employment for former soldiers returning from the Second World War.

"As part of our long-term stewardship of the estate, in the last decade this historic planting was cleared to enable the woodland to be restored and returned to native woodland species."

Technical project manager Chris Conroy added: "With wild Atlantic salmon now an endangered species in Britain, it’s vital that we take measures like this to boost biodiversity and build climate-resilience into the landscape so salmon can adapt to the future."

More on this story