Pearls in Pearl Project

'Pearls in Peril' (PIP) is an EU LIFE+ NATURE project co-funded by 22 organisations across Scotland, England and Wales.  This nationwide project is acting to safeguard important freshwater pearl mussel populations. The project run from 2012 to March 2017. In that time, a wide range of conservation measures have been created.  In the Dee catchment PIP has four components: establishing 75km of riparian woodland in the upper catchment; establishing 45km of agricultural buffer strips in the middle and lower Dee; removing channel engineering features from the main stem of the river; and a 'Pearls in the Classroom' education programme working with schools throughout the catchment to rasie awareness of the species.

DEFRA predicts an approximate 4˚C increase in mean summer temperatures by 2080 for the Deeside area. This is extremely concerning for the status of salmonids and species that rely on them, including the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel.

The impacts of temperature increases will be particularly damaging to wildlife in watercourses in the upper Dee area because of the lack of trees along the riverbanks. Trees provide shade, protecting watercourses from direct sunlight and heat. Their roots also stabilise banksides so when trees are absent the lack of tree roots allows bank erosion to occur, and this results in the stream channel becoming wider and shallower. Bank erosion is further increased by deer and livestock.

The Upper Dee Riparian Woodland Restoration Scheme aims to reduce these effects by establishing native trees over 70 kilometers of riverbank in the upper catchment. As they grow, these trees will help to reduce water temperatures during the summer months in these crucial salmon spawning and nursery areas, stabilise banks and reduce sediments entering the river, and provide habitat for a range of terrestrial species.

The delivery of this hugely ambitious £2.4 million project is funded by the EU LIFE+ Pearl in Peril project, with support from a range of agencies and organisations.

Project Timeline

January 2015: 40km of riverbank have been planted, towards the 70km target to be completed by the end of 2015

January 2014: Over half of the small enclosures to be created as part of Pearls in Peril Project on the Dee are now complete. 

May 2013: Riparian tree planting on the upper Dee is underway with the first three enclosures created on the bankside of the River Gairn tributary. 

January 2013: Two part-time Agricultural Project Officers are employed by the Pearls in Peril Project to be based at the River Office in Dinnet. 

2012: A bid has been made for EU LIFE+ funding with a decision being expected in April 2013.

2011: Working with landowners and managers in the upper reaches of the Dee, oppertunities for restoringg riparian woodland have been identified and agreed.

2010: Scottish Native Woods have been contracted to identify the opportunities for establishing riparian woodland in the upper reaches of the Dee catchment.

2008: This project, instigated by the Dee DSFB and River Dee Trust, is being progressed as part of the work of our Flow Management Group. The Cairngorms National Park Authority, the River Dee Trust, and Forestry Commission Scotland will be leading the next stages of the work.

More information can be found here.

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