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Just watched a fantastic documentary regarding the future of Scottish Salmon, its habitat and landscape, and what is being done to ensure the survival of Scottish Salmon. I would urge everyone to watch it. Narrated by Peter Capaldi with great photography. 5*

It was shown in selected cinemas, however from the website find the contact e-mail address, and them and ask for a link/password to watch it from the comforts of your own home at all the w's scotlandbigpicture dot com.

Highly recommended!
 

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Having watched the Riverwoods film, I am afraid I can’t share your enthusiasm. In my opinion, it is full of inaccuracies and appears driven, primarily, by a re wilding agenda.

It starts by showing a Scottish highland valley, a river and no trees, it then implies that the salmon numbers are in trouble because of the lack of trees. The narrator then explains that the salmon are essential for the survival of the forest and the two are intrinsically linked. Certainly true in Alaska with their Pacific salmon but not here with Atlantics. The film then switched to an Alaskan wilderness and a river, red with pacific salmon. It implies that that could be the same here. Again the narrator emphasises the link between the salmon and the trees. They state that the salmon carcasses supply the essential nutrients required for the trees survival. Certainly true in Alaska, where all the salmon die after spawning. They seemed to have totally missed the point, that Atlantic salmon head back to sea after spawning and any that do die, mostly do so, many miles downstream from their spawning grounds.

Not surprisingly, there was also a big push for reintroducing beavers and lynx. Also, the implication was that the landscape has been created for grouse shooting and salmon were suffering as a result.

To me, the way the whole presentation came across, was that the re wilders were just using the status of Atlantic salmon as a means to try and promote their agenda.

I am certainly not opposed to the right trees being planted in the right areas. That could certainly help improve habitat for young fish, while also help mitigate rising water temperatures. However, they also seem to have missed the fact that the high numbers of salmon recorded in the past, occurred when these same areas, were actually devoid of trees then too.

Certainly worth a watch, it’s well made, but just remember to switch on the B… S…t filter. Sadly, the average urban dwelling viewer, will take it all as gospel and probably believe every word.
 

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Even if we had millions of Atlantic salmon returning and dying on or near the spawning beds it wouldn't make a jot of difference to the trees without bears... you need bears to do what they do in the woods to get the nutrients from the salmon to the land. So that bit is all pie in the sky this side of the pond.

I am certainly not opposed to the right trees being planted in the right areas. That could certainly help improve habitat for young fish, while also help mitigate rising water temperatures. However, they also seem to have missed the fact that the high numbers of salmon recorded in the past, occurred when these same areas, were actually devoid of trees then too.
Exactly. It is a bit of a shame that useful riparian planting often gets confused with larger scale landscape planting.

Andy
 

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“Exactly. It is a bit of a shame that useful riparian planting often gets confused with larger scale landscape planting.”


Rather frustratingly, the only grants available for tree planting, at present, do not apply to small riparian planting. Instead, the grants are all for much larger scale projects, which often provides minimal benefit to the river. Riparian planting, that would provide maximum benefit, in the form of habitat and shading, primarily in the upper reaches, currently, are too small scale to benefit from the current grants. The trees themselves are relatively inexpensive, it’s the fencing that makes these small scale plantings so expensive.
Hopefully, the Scottish Gov. will acknowledge this oversight and amend the criteria, to allow smaller scale riparian planting to also benefit from grant funding.
 

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Hopefully, the Scottish Gov. will acknowledge this oversight and amend the criteria, to allow smaller scale riparian planting to also benefit from grant funding.
Or, the proprietors could put their hands in their pockets as it is all for the greater good... sorry went I to cloud cuckoo land there!
Far better to squabble amongst themselves and expect the tax payer to help them out on what are actually not particularly big projects on some of the smaller rivers.

Andy
 

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Having watched the Riverwoods film, I am afraid I can't share your enthusiasm. In my opinion, it is full of inaccuracies and appears driven, primarily, by a re wilding agenda.

It starts by showing a Scottish highland valley, a river and no trees, it then implies that the salmon numbers are in trouble because of the lack of trees. The narrator then explains that the salmon are essential for the survival of the forest and the two are intrinsically linked. Certainly true in Alaska with their Pacific salmon but not here with Atlantics. The film then switched to an Alaskan wilderness and a river, red with pacific salmon. It implies that that could be the same here. Again the narrator emphasises the link between the salmon and the trees. They state that the salmon carcasses supply the essential nutrients required for the trees survival. Certainly true in Alaska, where all the salmon die after spawning. They seemed to have totally missed the point, that Atlantic salmon head back to sea after spawning and any that do die, mostly do so, many miles downstream from their spawning grounds.

Not surprisingly, there was also a big push for reintroducing beavers and lynx. Also, the implication was that the landscape has been created for grouse shooting and salmon were suffering as a result.

To me, the way the whole presentation came across, was that the re wilders were just using the status of Atlantic salmon as a means to try and promote their agenda.

I am certainly not opposed to the right trees being planted in the right areas. That could certainly help improve habitat for young fish, while also help mitigate rising water temperatures. However, they also seem to have missed the fact that the high numbers of salmon recorded in the past, occurred when these same areas, were actually devoid of trees then too.

Certainly worth a watch, it's well made, but just remember to switch on the B… S…t filter. Sadly, the average urban dwelling viewer, will take it all as gospel and probably believe every word.
I think you should rewatch it. There are many reasons why reforestation of especially the upper catchment would be of crucial benefit to salmon, food, shelter, controlled flows, increased water quality and crucially lowering water temps etc. The film is fanciful in parts for sure, but the reasonings and interviews with river owners are carefully explained for those overly obsessed with the 'rewinding' terminology.
FYI 90-95% of atlantics die after spawning and it's not just bears that recycle that bounty..
 

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Where did I say trees would not be beneficial in the upper catchment? I think you need to re read my post. Of course they would, or as long as they are the right trees, in the right areas, certainly not Sitka plantations. However planting peat moorland can cause more harm than good, especially regarding carbon sequestration.
The big difference between Atlantic and Pacific salmon dying, is that the Atlantic salmon that die, tend to do so many miles downstream of their spawning grounds up in the headwaters. Therefore, their carcasses would not provide any beneficial nitrification to trees planted there.
It was the fanciful notion, that the film implies, that the relationship between Pacific salmon and their Alaskan environment could be applied here for Atlantic salmon, if the upper reaches were turned into forest, that I disagree with.
I still maintain the main agenda was based on re wilding. The presentation I attended had stalls set up, promoting the concept, selling books and giving out literature on every aspect of re wilding, beavers, lynx etc.
 

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Where did I say trees would not be beneficial in the upper catchment? I think you need to re read my post. Of course they would, or as long as they are the right trees, in the right areas, certainly not Sitka plantations. However planting peat moorland can cause more harm than good, especially regarding carbon sequestration.
The big difference between Atlantic and Pacific salmon dying, is that the Atlantic salmon that die, tend to do so many miles downstream of their spawning grounds up in the headwaters. Therefore, their carcasses would not provide any beneficial nitrification to trees planted there.
It was the fanciful notion, that the film implies, that the relationship between Pacific salmon and their Alaskan environment could be applied here for Atlantic salmon, if the upper reaches were turned into forest, that I disagree with.
I still maintain the main agenda was based on re wilding. The presentation I attended had stalls set up, promoting the concept, selling books and giving out literature on every aspect of re wilding, beavers, lynx etc.
If the purpose and end result is a restored and functional ecological landscape, what is your problem? We're at a point where big problems need actual solutions. Are there viable alternatives?
 

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I have no problem with a functional ecological landscape. It’s the “dressing up”of the proposal and the “unnecessary nonsense” that I object to.
I also think we have plenty evidence from Tay system, to show that beavers are bad news on the main stem of a river. It’s all well and good, pointing out the potential benefits they could bring to certain habits, up in the headwaters. But we all know what happens when they are released into a river system. Being rodents, they breed at an alarming rate and then move out of the headwaters, down into unsuitable habits, where they reek havoc and destruction. There are plenty photos already on this forum which demonstrate that fact.
I think we will just have to agree to disagree on this one.
 

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If the purpose and end result is a restored and functional ecological landscape, what is your problem? We're at a point where big problems need actual solutions. Are there viable alternatives?
I can't speak for Horsbrugh, but personally:

- The definition of 'restored' tends to be in the eye of the beholder, ditto 'functional'.
- There is never enough consideration given to the complex interactions between different reintroduced species.
- The end result is just more human meddling in a different, more sensitively presented form.
- There us too much sales pitch and not enough evidence,e.g. 'Salmon are essential for survival of the forest' - no they're not. Most ancient forest doesn't surround Salmon rivers or spawning sites
- The end result is that these schemes are often promoted as one size fits all greenwash to obscure other significant problems and as a vehicle to get on the sponsor's personal hobby horse.

No problem with the right tree in the right places.
 

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Where did I say trees would not be beneficial in the upper catchment? I think you need to re read my post. Of course they would, or as long as they are the right trees, in the right areas, certainly not Sitka plantations. However planting peat moorland can cause more harm than good, especially regarding carbon sequestration.
The big difference between Atlantic and Pacific salmon dying, is that the Atlantic salmon that die, tend to do so many miles downstream of their spawning grounds up in the headwaters. Therefore, their carcasses would not provide any beneficial nitrification to trees planted there.
It was the fanciful notion, that the film implies, that the relationship between Pacific salmon and their Alaskan environment could be applied here for Atlantic salmon, if the upper reaches were turned into forest, that I disagree with.
I still maintain the main agenda was based on re wilding. The presentation I attended had stalls set up, promoting the concept, selling books and giving out literature on every aspect of re wilding, beavers, lynx etc.
You must have went to the same one as me, was it you that made the point to the biologist about salmon dying in the upper reaches?
 

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I can't speak for Horsbrugh, but personally:

- The definition of 'restored' tends to be in the eye of the beholder, ditto 'functional'.
- There is never enough consideration given to the complex interactions between different reintroduced species.
- The end result is just more human meddling in a different, more sensitively presented form.
- There us too much sales pitch and not enough evidence,e.g. 'Salmon are essential for survival of the forest' - no they're not. Most ancient forest doesn't surround Salmon rivers or spawning sites
- The end result is that these schemes are often promoted as one size fits all greenwash to obscure other significant problems and as a vehicle to get on the sponsor's personal hobby horse.

No problem with the right tree in the right places.
Perhaps, but forests are essential to salmon, please don't get hung up on the the other bit, yes there are exceptions, but in the main all the worlds greatest salmon producing rivers have a fundamental connection with forests, because they create the diversity of habitats and resources that a salmon needs to be abundant.
 

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Perhaps, but forests are essential to salmon, please don't get hung up on the the other bit, yes there are exceptions, but in the main all the worlds greatest salmon producing rivers have a fundamental connection with forests, because they create the diversity of habitats and resources that a salmon needs to be abundant.
Iceland? Northern Norway? The Karlovka?

I'm all for the tree planting, just find it hard not to get hung up on the other stuff - not that my view matters in any way.
 

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You must have went to the same one as me, was it you that made the point to the biologist about salmon dying in the upper reaches?
Yes, that was me and the biologist agreed with me. I am also sure he would also have agreed with me about beavers too, if we had had the time to discuss them.
 

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I think its fair to say most salmon die after spawning, especially the males. We have all seen their decaying bodies being washed downstream after they have spawned. It might be easy to get nostalgic and think 'They have passed on their genes so they didnt die for nothing', but its not just their genes they are there to pass on. Their bodies contain important marine nutrients and as the bodies are washed away those nutrients are lost.
This is where trees come in. Trees fall in the river and the large woody debris that lies in the water snag these carcasses as they go by thus retaining the vital nutrients in the areas where the fish spawn. These nutrients help invertebrate numbers which are the food source for juvenile fish.
People may not like beavers (I understand why) but their activity on the bank by felling trees provides the instream large woody debris which is essential for the trapping of carcasses in spawning streams. These trees also help create a diverse range of instream habitat.

Never look at salmon in isolation, you have to take a holistic approach to the management of species and landscapes. Trees are vital to salmon and so many other creatures.
 

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I think its fair to say most salmon die after spawning, especially the males. We have all seen their decaying bodies being washed downstream after they have spawned. It might be easy to get nostalgic and think 'They have passed on their genes so they didnt die for nothing', but its not just their genes they are there to pass on. Their bodies contain important marine nutrients and as the bodies are washed away those nutrients are lost.
This is where trees come in. Trees fall in the river and the large woody debris that lies in the water snag these carcasses as they go by thus retaining the vital nutrients in the areas where the fish spawn. These nutrients help invertebrate numbers which are the food source for juvenile fish.
People may not like beavers (I understand why) but their activity on the bank by felling trees provides the instream large woody debris which is essential for the trapping of carcasses in spawning streams. These trees also help create a diverse range of instream habitat.

Never look at salmon in isolation, you have to take a holistic approach to the management of species and landscapes. Trees are vital to salmon and so many other creatures.
Again, in an Alaskan wilderness, where the salmon die very soon after spawning, that is all very relevant. Not quite the same here. Given that Atlantic salmons instinct is to attempt to return to sea, immediately after spawning, they tend to drop back downstream fairly quickly. So as a result, regardless of how many actually make it, very few actually die in the main spawning areas, in the upper reaches. On the main Scottish salmon rivers, there is no problem with lack of nutrients in the main river, or surrounding landscape. Yes, perhaps in the very upper reaches, any trees there would no doubt benefit from some additional nutrients but realistically, they are not going to receive any significant amount from any Atlantic salmon that die after spawning. Perhaps, if we had a large bear population pulling them off their spawning beds, then taking a dump in the forest after but we all know, that is just not going to happen. Woody debris is again certainly beneficial to habitat in the upper nursery areas but not so desirable or necessary, on the main stem of a prime salmon beat.

I am all for planting in areas where there would be obvious benefits, to habitat and shading, let's just not pretend we need to turn over half of Scotland back to how we perceive it to have been a thousand years ago to achieve the envisaged utopia.
 

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Tana? Altaelva? You've heard of the boreal forest?
There's loads of rivers with forests in the upper reaches, I was just pointing out that isn't the natural state of some of our more productive Salmon rivers i.e. Trees are not a necessity for a healthy Salmon habitat.

In general, trees are a good thing, lets have more native species by the river bank, lets not draw tenuous causal links to suit any one agenda and definitely lets no go a planting trees willy nilly in upland areas where they shouldn't be.
 
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