‘Energy’ volunteers aid River Dee project

A group of volunteers who helped in the River Dee project
A group of volunteers who helped in the River Dee project

A team of power company volunteers have been lending their support to a project on the River Dee to safeguard precious freshwater pearl mussel populations.

The group from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks’ (SSEN) Aberdeen office spent the day cutting lengths of willow to be transplanted far up the Dee catchment in aid of the Pearls in Peril project – a UK-wide protection initiative.

Under the guidance of Calum Hislop, river officer with the River Dee Trust, the eight volunteers from SSEN’s transmission division used their ‘Be the Difference’ day to cut dense stands of willow downstream of the Bridge of Dee in Aberdeen into lengths ready to be planted upstream of Braemar.

The ‘Be the Difference’ programme gives every employee the opportunity to offer a day of their time to a community or charity cause of their choice.

Calum explained: “The cuttings have been prepared so that they can be inserted directly into the ground close to the river edges far up the River Dee catchment to form new areas of riparian woodland.

“It is hoped that each of the cuttings will grow back into a full-sized tree and will create new areas of shade which will provide cooler regulated water temperatures suitable for freshwater pearl mussels and fish, countering the harmful effects of climate change on those species.”

He added: “Woody material and leaf litter from the willow will eventually fall into the river creating new instream habitats and helping to develop a healthy freshwater ecosystem.

“The willow, as well as naturally stabilising the riverbanks, will also create fantastic corridors and shelters for other wildlife associated with the river including birds and otters.

“We would like to thank the team from SSEN for taking a day out from their normal working activities to support the Pearls in Peril project.”

By the end of the day it was estimated that around 1,000 cuttings had been prepared ready for planting and it is hoped that up to an additional 1,000 trees could be grown from longer lengths of material taken away by the River Dee Trust for further processing.

Alistair Watson, environmental Adviser for SSEN, said: “It was great to spend the day helping such worthwhile environmental cause in the local community.

“This will also help to mitigate a variety of environmental problems associated with climate change.”