The Dun Law Windfarm Extension habitat mitigation project has created an opportunity for habitat enhancement and natural flood management on the upper Gala Water
Tweed Forum has been working with Scottish Borders Council and the developer of Dun Law windfarm extension to create and enhance wildlife habitat in the area around the windfarm extension, near Heriot. The project’s programme of habitat works should also contribute in a small way to the Galashiels Flood Management Scheme by helping to reduce the peak flood waters passing through Galashiels. This project employs the principles of natural flood management (NFM), a suite of flood management measures which are being explored by various projects within the Tweed catchment (see Eddleston Water, Cheviot Futures and Ettrick and Yarrow Riparian Project).
At Crookston, the further 23ha of new native woodland has been planted at the top of the Gala Water catchment. The area is deer and rabbit fenced, and has largely survived the extended drought of June and July, but some replacement planting will be required. Two smaller areas adjacent totalling 6ha are now being considered for native riparian woodland planting in 2019.
At Crookston Farm a further 23ha of woodland is planned, with a funding package from the Scottish Forestry Grants Scheme and Forest Carbon. This new area of woodland will add to the already significant amount of woodland at Crookston, and all this has been achieved without any loss in productivity on a farm which is renowned for its quality sheep and cattle. A steady flow of students, policy makers and academics have visited Crookston over the last five years, taking with them the message that integrated land use brings many advantages.
As part of a series of non-technical NFM case studies, floodplain woodland planting at Crookston Farm is showcased. You can download the publication here.
The project has completed 47.49ha of native riparian woodland planting along the headwaters of the Gala Water, as well as numerous open water scrapes, wildlife ponds, protected water margins, management of species rich grassland and a 300m ‘floodplain leaky barrier’ planted on the Lugate Water. 5 farmers have been working closely with Tweed Forum, using additional SRDP funding, showing that it’s possible to integrate tree planting, pond digging and conservation grazing management with normal farming activities.
Tweed Forum has contacted over 20 farmers in the area and has 4 projects currently under way. Two farmers near Heriot have been working with Tweed Forum to plant over 40ha of native woodland, largely on the floodplain of the upper Gala Water beside the Shoestanes, Armet and Heriot Water.
Over 50,000 native trees have now been planted and these will act to slow down the flow of water across the floodplain during floods. In addition, the trees will form part of an extensive network of semi-natural habitat for all kinds of wildlife including otters, deer and possibly water voles. The stream banks are now protected from erosion caused by livestock and diffuse pollution from farm animal droppings by riparian fencing. Fish too will benefit, as the banks will be allowed to vegetate and thus provide cover for fish as well as increasing the general productivity of the watercourse.
Further downstream, on the Lugate Water, a disused fish farm has been converted into a wildlife pond which will also act as flood water storage in times of high flow. Finally, a series of 6 small ponds, water margin fencing and 0.8ha of riparian woodland planting has been carried out on a farm above Oxton. As an additional benefit, 16ha of species rich grassland has also been protected through the SRDP, with help from Tweed Forum.