Rivers and all the wildlife associated with them, are the focus of this year’s Highland Biodiversity Conference.
The Salmon of Wisdom swims deep ～ Rewilding Highland Rivers is being held at Inverness College, UHI on Saturday 30th March, and is a partnership event between the Highland Environment Forum and the college.
The conference will be exploring our understanding of river systems and asking have we got the right balance for wildlife, hydroelectric dams, the potential for natural flood management and landscape beauty.
Expert speakers are coming from across the region to address the conference and share their knowledge. Chris Daphne, Fisheries Officer with the Ness and Beauly Fisheries Trust said:
“I have been passionate about studying eels since childhood. Their rapidly declining numbers show that we must do all that we can to help their survival in our rivers.”
Chris will be highlighting the complexity of life in our river systems, the importance of having a greater understanding of this, and of managing rivers to the benefit of all life that depends on them.
Dr Mark Coulson, also speaking at the conference, echoed Chris’ views saying:
“Work at the UHI Rivers and Lochs Institute is focussed on better understanding river systems, and making our findings available, so that rivers can be better managed, My own work studying DNA has revealed previously unknown details of life in our rivers and lochs. I am looking forward to sharing them at the conference.”
It is not just the river waters that matter, the land that borders it - the riparian belt - is also vitally important to having healthy rivers. Penny Lawson works for the Spey Catchment Initiative, which includes riverside tree planting amongst its ambitious plans for the river, Penny commented :
“Climate change and hotter summers can cause real problems for our rivers, particularly in the shallow upper reaches where salmon eggs are killed off in if the water temperature gets too high. The shading provided by deciduous trees helps enormously, by reducing heat, and through leaf fall adding to the river’s nutrients. I’m really looking forward to learning more about organic matter in rivers from the researchers from the UHI Environmental Research Institute in Thurso. It is such a key part of a healthy river and food supply for the whole system,”
Giles Brockman of Forest Estate Scotland, chairs the group that has planned the conference, and is delighted with the way that the programme has come together:
“This promises to be a great day for learning from, and talking to, experts in river ecology. The Highlands are famed for out rivers and I’m sure that this day will trigger many interesting conversations about how we can make sure that we are looking after them to the very best of our abilities.”
Full programme details and booking is at https://highland-biodiversity-conference.eventbrite.co.uk