Trainees have key role in tree project

Trainees at work on the tree project on the  Balmoral Estate
Trainees at work on the tree project on the Balmoral Estate

A group of trainees is helping to establish trees in an important habitat project in Upper Deeside.

They have been working along the banks of the Gelder Burn on the Balmoral Estate.

It is part of an initiative led by the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board (DDSFB) and River Dee Trust (RDT), supported by Pearls in Peril LIFE, the Woodland Trust and the estate.

The management of the River Dee catchment is a constant task and one which at different times, demands a lot of resources.

Over many years, both the board and trust have established a strong track record of delivering habitat projects throughout the catchment.

But the scale of the task means they often draw on the support and goodwill of a wide range of people and organisations.

River managers say that in recent years, the level of support, particularly following Storm Frank, has been tremendous.

The trainees are working towards an SVQ Level 2 in environmental conservation as part of Outdoor Access Trust Scotland’s Mountains and the People Project.

As part of their training in practical conservation skills, they have built 45 small fenced enclosures - which will protect more than 1000 native trees.

Establishing tree cover along the banks is regarded as a vital piece of work and the contribution of the trainees has been welcomed.

Mark Bilsby, river director of the DDSFB and RDT, said: “The habitat improvement works are part of a wider project to enhance and restore the Dee and its tributaries.

“It is a big job, so we are delighted to be working the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland who share our passion for the enhancement of the local environment.

“It is encouraging to see the next generation have a hands-on opportunity to make a real difference on the Upper Dee catchment.”

Trees improve the river environment in many ways

An additional benefit is that they can boost the rainwater storage capacity of land, reducing flooding downstream.

Overall, they are seen as good for the river and its tributaries.

The work in Glen Gelder was suggested by Glyn Jones, the Balmoral Estate ranger, and was aimed at giving the trainees an insight into managing habitats other than upland paths, and to complement this element of the SVQ.

They plan to return in the autumn to help plant trees in the pens they have built.