Launched in 2020, the “Million Trees Campaign” aims to protect the wild Atlantic salmon that reside within the Dee River and help to preserve their numbers.
The initiative was started after officials from the Scottish government recorded dangerously high-water temperatures in the hill streams of the Dee River. Since the Dee River is a primary nursery area for wild salmon, the temperatures are endangering the offspring, which need cooler water to survive. Without cooler waters, the eggs cannot survive.
The high temperatures are a direct result of the lack of shade surrounding the streams. This triggered an alarm that something needed to change if they were going to give the salmon a chance of survival.
The initiative consists in planting local tree species alongside the rivers, in order to increase tree coverage and decrease water temperatures. A wide variety of native trees are being planted, including; aspens, willows, hawthorns, junipers, Scots pines, native rowans, junipers, and birches.
Planting trees alongside the rivers will have the added benefit of improving the overall health and biodiversity of rivers across the uplands, increasing insect life, increasing plant diversity, leaf fall (which helps insert nutrients into the river and nearby lands), and improving flood control. An increase in salmon will also boost the local economy and tourism without further endangering the ecosystem.