Habitat Restoration & Creation
Over the centuries people have changed and manipulated parts of the river for agricultural production and land drainage. This has resulted in the loss of woodland and wetland habitats from the River Annan Catchment. Good riparian habitats and floodplain management is essential in the development of ecologically important instream habitats, reducing erosion and agricultural runoff and can even mitigate against the effects of climate change.
Wild Trout Trust Advisory Reports
The Wild Trout Trust have made two advisory visits to sites on the Annan Water and the Kirtle Water. The purpose of these reports was to assess bank erosion and riverine habitats and offer future management options for the site. You can read the reports by following the links below.
The impacts of over-grazing on riparian habitats are well documented resulting in the direct loss of bankside habitat while compromising the riparian zones ability to filter sediment and nutrient run-off. In the last decade or so around 70 kilometres of riparian fencing has been erected on the Annan by the fisheries board/trust. The erection of fencing to exclude livestock from riparian areas has been proven to have great benefits to river ecosystems. Benefits include reductions in bankside erosion and silt inputs and increased bankside vegetation which generally improves habitat and river morphology and reduces pollutants for fish and other aquatic and terrestrial organisms.
Woody Material & habitat
The introduction of woody material into a stream would normally be part of a naturally functioning river. In areas that have been overgrazed, adding woody material can often be an important starting point for habitat restoration and restoring natural functions. Large woody material is usually positioned and anchored in place, providing cover for juvenile fish, a safe refuge for larger fish against predation. Woody debris can create more diverse flow patterns by creating scour and deposition, run, riffle and pools. This benefits a variety of species and life stages of fish while the woody material also benefits before terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. The risk of flooding from introducing large woody material or tree felling must always be considered before work is undertaken.
Riparian Native Tree Planting
Fencing projects are frequently accompanied by riparian tree planting. Riparian woodlands also play a crucial role in helping maintain the health and productivity of watercourses. Where it is mainly composed of native species, riparian woodland is an important and valuable habitat both for the terrestrial organisms that depend directly on it and for the many aquatic organisms that derive indirect benefits from its presence. As with riparian vegetation, woodland reduces siltation, supplies invertebrates and leaf litter for food, provides shade and cover and may connect existing areas of woodland. Tree planting can create shaded areas and protect the river from rising temperatures predicted with climate change. Ideally trees in the riparian zone would comprise of different ages and structures, providing areas of light and shade, dead wood and fallen timber which can provide important instream habitat features.