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12 Apr 2022

Spring brings signs of recovery as Threave landscape project progresses

A wetland habitat
Visitors returning to Threave Estate this spring will already be able to see the impacts of a 100-year project to restore and regenerate an important area of wetland and woodland habitats.

The Threave Landscape Restoration Project has been running for less than a year, but there are already clear changes to the way the site looks. Over 8,000 metres of redundant fencing have been removed, along with 35 metres of constructed embankments, allowing the floodplain of the River Dee to extend into the Kelton Mains area, creating 7.4 hectares of wetland. Preparations to lay boardwalks to improve public access to the wetland areas are underway too.

In addition, 4 hectares of commercial forestry has been removed and over 1,000 native trees (including alder, aspen and rowan) have been planted and are now beginning to bud. A further 16,000 trees have been ordered for planting on the site.

Dozens of volunteers from local communities and from HSBC UK have contributed to the project, which is supported by HSBC UK, the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Group of volunteers planting trees in a field
Volunteers planting native tree species at Kelton Mains
“Spring is always an exciting time in the countryside, but here we are already able to see how the work we’ve done to restore these habitats is having an effect.”
David Thompson, Estate Manager at Threave
A man wearing an orange high-vis jacket over a National Trust for Scotland fleece stands in a field. He rests an arm on a tree sleeve, protecting a newly planted sapling.

The work carried out so far not only makes the site even more beautiful, but there are also signs that nature is already benefitting. Last summer, for the first time, the northern marsh orchid was recorded on the site; and as spring arrives, the Threave estate team are expecting to see bluebells and foxgloves extend into new areas, as well as more evidence of new species of insects, birds and mammals.

David Thompson, National Trust for Scotland Estate Manager at Threave said: ‘As the trees planted over winter come into blossom and bud, as the floodplain extends outwards and as the Belted Galloways slowly work their way round the area, we are seeing a real improvement to the condition of this land, and an increase in the plant, insect and wildlife that we are finding here. If this is the progress we can see after this short time, imagine how much richer and biodiverse it will be in a decade.’

Michaela Wright, Head of Corporate Sustainability, HSBC UK said: ‘Fantastic to see the significant progress of the Threave Landscape Restoration Project, and in such a short space of time. Nature-based solutions, such as this, play a vital role in helping to tackle climate change. We are looking forward to seeing the wetland and woodlands continue to develop, attracting more flora and fauna and allowing the public to enjoy this restored habitat over the next few years.’

Ted Leeming, Chairman of the Galloway Glens Scheme, said: ‘The inspirational work being completed by the team at Threave is exemplary and it is through pure excitement at their thought leadership that I have now made multiple visits to see how they are progressing. This is a truly brilliant initiative. Free access makes it easy for everyone to engage with the multiple elements of the project and it is with childlike enthusiasm that I look forward to watching the nature-based solutions unfold over the coming months and years. It’s amazing how quickly she reacts when we work in harmony with her and it will be fascinating to see just how much we can learn and share as a result. The Galloway Glens Scheme is only able to assist this brilliant project thanks to the support we receive from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and partners including Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Environment Team.’

A herd of 14 Belted Galloway cattle, a traditional breed for the area, graze the site with special GPS collars controlling where they can access.

Two black cows and two calves stand in a field. The cows have a wide white band around their middle.
Belted Galloway cattle graze on site.

The project is already attracting international interest, with a team from Syracuse University London attending for a site visit. This is a result of the project also being part of HSBC’s global Climate Solutions Partnership, which aims to unlock barriers to finance for companies and projects that tackle climate change.

The Threave Landscape Restoration Project is part of the National Trust for Scotland’s vision to deliver Nature, Beauty & Heritage for Everyone. The project is one of many contributing to its conservation objectives, specifically to:

  • enable nature to flourish across our countryside, gardens, farmed and designed landscapes, taking the opportunity to aid its recovery in places where climate change and past practices have diminished it.

Read more about the strategy

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