Ettrick and Yarrow Riparian Project

Tweed Forum has delivered several improvements to riparian habitat in the Ettrick and Yarrow catchment above Selkirk, in partnership with Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and landowners. Following comprehensive consultation regarding the Selkirk Flood Plan, which involved building many new flood walls around Selkirk to protect vulnerable housing and businesses, SBC commissioned Halcrow to look at the potential contribution of Natural Flood Management measures in the catchment, and it is these wider catchment measures which Tweed Forum helped to promote.

On the Long Philip Burn, (which badly flooded the Bannerfield area of Selkirk after exceptional downpours in 2003) SBC re-meandered the channel and floodbanks were placed well back to allow the watercourse to flood an area of new parkland. SBC also removed a road bridge, which was often choked with gravel. At the head of a 4 km length of stream on Foulsheils and Linglie farms, Tweed Forum organised the planting of 10 ha of new native woodland as well as improved management of the heathery hills. The planting should stabilise the banks and help to reduce the impact of heavy downpours, as well as provide wildlife habitat and landscape improvements. Funding for this work came through the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) and SBC’s Habitat Restoration fund (through Southern Uplands Partnership and with assistance from Borders Forest Trust). You can read our case study here.

Further up the Ettrick and Yarrow catchment, at Cossarsill and Mountbenger, deep eroding ditches in blanket bog were dammed and filled in. This was to help the peat bog to retain water and reduce the loss of carbon from peat. A 7 ha (8,500 trees) native woodland was planted along the Whitehope Burn, which joins the Yarrow water. As well as increasing flood capacity and reducing the peak of flood levels, the stream will then be able to recover from the effects of livestock grazing. The banks had collapsed and the river braided, with very shallow warm water in summer, leading to stranded and suffocating fish.

Tweed Forum, in partnership with SBC, also fenced off around 900 m of riparian habitat on the lower Kirkstead Burn and Riskinhope Burn. The fencing on these 2 streams, which flow into St Mary’s Loch, was recommended by the Wild Trout Trust. Follow-up riparian planting within the fenced off zones on both the Kirkstead and Riskinhope was carried out by members of St Mary’s Loch Angling Club. At Annelshope, wetland was created on the floodplain, which will act as extra flood water storage, as well as providing useful open water habitat for wildlife. This work was partly financed through the SBC Glenkerie Windfarm offsite mitigation fund.

At Whitehope Farm, 7 ha of native woodland was planted to slow down rainwater run-off rates and restore natural riverbank vegetation. You can read a case study here.