Spey Catchment Initiative – Eco-Project Boost for the River Calder

The Spey Catchment Initiative is delighted to announce a substantial boost for the River Calder above Newtonmore, following the grant of significant funding from Scottish Natural Heritage’s Biodiversity Challenge Fund.

The River Spey is renowned throughout the world for its salmon fishing and the River Calder is one of its upper tributaries, providing precious spawning grounds for the prized Atlantic salmon. Stocks of Atlantic salmon are widely acknowledged to be in crisis, though, for a multitude of reasons and the Spey Fishery Board has identified the Calder as under-performing in terms of its productivity for salmon and trout. So the announcement last Friday by Scottish Natural Heritage that its Biodiversity Challenge Fund (BCF) will support the project by providing £192,000 of funding to help improve the Calder is a considerable boost, not just for the struggling fish populations within it, but even more so for the wider environment.

The BCF grant, with support from the Woodland Trust, will enable an extensive programme of riparian tree-planting throughout this upland glen. This will provide shade to cool the water temperatures, but will also improve the habitat generally and provide long-term benefits for numerous wildlife species, whilst also helping to future-proof the Calder catchment from the ravages of climate change. The Spey Catchment Initiative (SCI) has also been working closely with Glenbanchor Estates and Cluny Estate to develop a project which will see large wood structures placed within the upper sections of the river. These will provide sanctuary for juvenile fish, as well as helping to slow the flow of this fast-flowing river and thereby providing some natural flood alleviation for Newtonmore and the Spey catchment down below. Together with the extensive tree-planting from the BCF grant, these projects will provide landscape-scale changes to boost the ecology of the whole area.

Spey Fishery Board Director and SCI partner, Roger Knight, said, “We are particularly grateful to Scottish Natural Heritage for supporting this project with a substantial grant. Often we can only tackle parts of a river, or problems at specific locations, but this grant will enable the Spey Catchment Initiative to tackle the River Calder catchment at a landscape scale. It will be the biggest project so far for the Initiative, benefitting not just the fish populations there, but the ecology and biodiversity of the wider environment, whilst also providing some flood risk alleviation benefits for the Spey catchment down below. We very much look forward to getting started on it in August.”

SCI Project Officer Penny Lawson added, “This is a tremendous boost for the environment around the Calder. Anything that can be done to improve the young salmon population there is positive, but this project will bring long-term benefits to many other species of wildlife too and help future-proof the area against the onset of climate change. It will be a significant enhancement for biodiversity and the wider environment and is particularly good news in these otherwise troubled times.”

For further information contact Roger Knight, Director of the Spey Fishery Board, on 01340 810841 or 07919 284482 or email: director@speyfisheryboard.com