Spring brings signs of recovery at Threave Estate

Visitors returning to the National Trust for Scotland’s 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.

By Brian Yule
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 5:40 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 5:40 pm
Volunteers plant trees as part of the Threave Estate restoration
Volunteers plant trees as part of the Threave Estate restoration

The Threave Landscape Restoration Project has been running for only ten months, but there are clear changes already, with over 6000m of redundant fencing and 35m of constructed embankments removed, allowing the River Dee floodplain 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.

Four hectares of commercial forestry has been removed and hundreds of native species including alder, aspen and rowan planted which are now beginning to bud. A further 16,000 trees trees have been ordered for planting onsite.

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

There are signs nature is already benefitting as last summer, for the first time, the Northern March Orchid was recorded on the site and as spring arrives it is expected to see bluebells and foxgloves extend into new areas, as well as more evidence of new species of insects, birds and mammals moving into the area.

A herd of 14 Belted Galloway cattle graze the site with special GPS collars controlling where they can access.

David Thompson, estate manager, said: “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.

"As the trees planted over winter come into blossom and bud, as the floodplain extends outwards and as the Belted Galloway 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 just ten months, imagine how much richer and bio-diverse it will be in a decade.”

Through HSBC UK’s support, the project is part of the financial company’s global Climate Solutions Partnership and is already attracting international interest with a team from Syracuse University London visiting the site.

Michaela Wright, head of corporate sustainability at HSBC UK said: “We are so pleased to see significant progress being made in such a short space of time.

"We are very much 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, added: “I have now made multiple visits to see how the team at Threave are progressing 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 Mother Nature 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.”