Help us rescue the upper River Affric!

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25th October 2016

Healthy rivers are the lifeblood of Highland glens, carrying the water that sustains plants, animals and people alike.

The lower Affric River is famed for its beauty, with the native trees lining its banks adding to the splendour of sites such as Dog Falls. However, in the largely tree-less upper reaches of the Affric, it’s a different story. We're asking for your help in raising £15,000 for a crucial new project to return an abundance of life to the river.

Trees protect the banks of rivers, holding the soil in place and preventing erosion from powerful water currents. They slow down and reduce the impact of floods, and their fallen leaves are eaten by aquatic insects, which in turn are food for fish such as trout.  Woodlands along the river’s edge are vital for the health of watercourses and enable wildlife to move to new areas. But in the upper Affric watershed, west of Loch Affric, they are all gone.

Imagine the upper Affric River flowing past tree-lined banks, supporting an abundance of fish, insects and birds. With your help, we’ll take practical action now to make this a reality.

In the absence of trees, the banks of the upper Affric River are collapsing and eroding, and large blocks of peat, broken loose by floodwaters, litter the sand bars. Occasional stumps show that trees were alive there relatively recently, and scattered seedlings of alder, birch and eared willow are attempting to grow, but are held back by deer grazing. To date, most of the fenced exclosures for forest restoration have excluded these river-side zones, so this vital part of the landscape has remained in a devastated state.

Over the years, we’ve been able to carry out some small-scale work to protect and restore healthy river-side trees. Now we have an exciting new three-way partnership between ourselves, Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) and the North Affric Estate to significantly expand this work. We aim to start this with our volunteers next spring, but we need to raise £15,000 first. 

Our plans include a series of stock-fenced exclosures strategically-sited along the Affric River west of Loch Affric. These will be erected by our volunteers and will protect both existing, overgrazed seedlings and new trees that we will plant. We’ve also got agreement for a new 40 hectare deer-fenced exclosure that will span the Affric River, and join the existing Athnamulloch fence.

The existing, struggling tree seedlings beside the upper Affric show that woodland is trying to grow there again. Your help now will make all the difference – enabling life to be brought back to the river. Please consider donating today and help us rescue the River Affric!

UPDATE
We've reached our funding target for this appeal! Thank you to everybody who contributed. Find out more here.

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