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Project Actions Summary Table

Action Ref.

Name of Action

Action Summary

Establishment Actions

A.1

Recruit project team

Recruit Project Manager, Project Administrator and four Project Officers covering Scotland, England and Wales.

A.2

Produce project communications strategy

Develop Communication Strategy setting out key messages and target audiences.

A.3

Refine and plan implementation of concrete conservation actions

Provide freshwater pearl mussel training to project partners, establish work programmes and prepare a conservation management plan.

Conservation Actions

C.1

Facilitate and implement improved riparian habitat in the River Dee and Spey

Deliver the Upper Deeside Riparian scheme through planting small tree enclosures along key tributaries of the River Dee.  Work with land managers to develop Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) riparian planting schemes on the Rivers Dee and Spey.

C.2

Facilitate and implement improved riparian habitat in the River South Esk

Work with land managers to develop SRDP riparian planting schemes on the River South Esk.

C.3

Implement improved riparian habitat in the Rivers Evelix, Borgie and Oykel

Commercial forestry within riparian zones will be replaced with native riparian woodland and old forestry drainage ditches will be blocked.

C.4

Implement improved riparian habitat in the Mingarry Burn

Native broad-leaved trees will be planted along river banks covering approximately 20 hectares of the Mingarry catchment.

C.5

Facilitate and implement improved riparian habitat in the River Naver

Work with land managers to develop SRDP riparian planting schemes on the River Naver, focussing on the restoration of wooded riparian zones through a combination of natural regeneration and planting of native tree species.

C.6

Facilitate and implement improved riparian habitat in the Afon Eden

Restore the Brynteg forestry block (approximately 88 hectares) from intensive conifer forestry production to an area for lower intensity native broadleaf, wet woodland and raised bog plant communities.  The area will be stock fenced, non-native trees removed, ditches blocked and settlement ponds created in strategic locations where site drainage runs into the Afon Eden.

C.7

Facilitate and implement improved riparian habitat in the River Ehen

Working with land managers and with Natural England, priority areas for riparian habitat improvements along the main River Ehen will be identified. They will include riparian fencing, buffer strip creation, tree planting and alternative stock watering provisions. The recommendations will be implemented through agri-environment scheme land management agreements, with funding for the practical delivery of actions coming from agri-environment funds.

C.8

Implement in-stream restoration works in the River Dee and South Esk

Both the Dee and the South Esk are large rivers with a long history of human intervention and management. This has led to degraded in-steam habitat which is adversely affecting both pearl mussels and salmonids. For example, weirs and rock bank protection can interfere with sediment transport or supply processes and reduce the area of available pearl mussel habitat. Within the River Dee, work at eight priority sites will be delivered in this project, and six priority sites will be tackled on the South Esk. Work will include developing detailed design plans, managing contractors to deliver the work and pre and post monitoring of the sites to assess their impact.

C.9

Implement in-stream restoration works in the Mingarry Burn

Manual installation of woody debris at a minimum of four sites in the Mingarry Burn will be completed to improve habitat for freshwater pearl mussels and salmonids.  A man-made weir at the upstream limit of the SAC has been identified as a barrier to fish passage (the weir is the impoundment that creates ‘Loch an Torr'). The installation of timber baffles on this weir will help improve the passage of migrating salmonids.

C.10

Implement in-stream restoration works in the River Naver

The targeted removal of man-made structures, which are known to be impeding natural sediment transport and flow patterns, will be completed in the main stem of the Rivers Naver and Mallart. In-stream restoration will be undertaken at six priority sites and will include developing detailed design plans, managing contractors to deliver the work and pre and post monitoring of the sites to assess their impact. The actions are likely to include the removal or disruption of weirs, the reconnection of flood flow channels, restoration of alluvial fans, and the removal of hard bank protection and in-stream croys.

C.11

Implement in-stream restoration works in the Afon Eden

Clean gravel will be introduced to seed areas which are currently lacking natural gravel beds. Large boulders and woody debris will also be placed in the channel to create diversity in flow patterns, so that areas of natural gravel deposition develop. These gravel beds will provide suitable habitat for juvenile pearl mussels and spawning areas for salmonids.

C.12

Reduce nutrient and sediment input from diffuse pollution sources in the River Dee and South Esk

The River Dee and the South Esk have been identified as priority catchments for tackling diffuse pollution.  Work with land-managers will aim to promote changes in land management activities which can reduce diffuse pollution. For example, encouraging land managers to create un-cropped and un-grazed riparian buffer strips. Where relevant, other diffuse pollution reduction activities will be promoted, such as constructed farm wetlands to filter run-off from steadings and alternative stock-watering systems.  This will be delivered through SRDP schemes.

C.13

Reduce nutrient and sediment input from diffuse pollution sources in the River Evelix

The Evelix catchment will be surveyed, using established best practice methods, to establish potential diffuse pollution sources and their likely impacts on freshwater pearl mussel populations. The survey work will identify the key strategic points within the catchment where concrete conservation action to reduce nutrient and sediment inputs will be most appropriate. This will be delivered through SRDP schemes.

C.14

Reduce nutrient and sediment input from diffuse pollution sources in the Afon Eden

Diffuse pollution issues will be tackled using a range of means and will include blocking ditches, installing and protecting farm wetlands and ponds.

C.15

Reduce nutrient and sediment input from diffuse pollution sources in the River Ehen

Key areas of accelerated bank erosion in the catchment will be re-mediated through the use of bio-engineering solutions to assist natural bank recovery, where appropriate.  Other measures are likely to include drain blocking, sediment trap installation and the creation of strategic small catchment wetlands.

C.16

Encyst juvenile salmonids in the River Moriston and North Harris

This action will involve bankside encystment of juvenile salmonids, using glochidia collected from the resident mussels. This technique will maximise encystment onto resident juvenile salmonids and will therefore give the best possible chance for the development of juvenile mussels.

C.17

Encyst juvenile salmonids in the River Ehen

In targeted river reaches, salmon fry from the catchment will be encysted on the river bank with glochidia from a sample of adult mussels and re-released into the parent river.

C.18

Create wetlands/settlement ponds in the Afon Eden

A series of settlement ponds/wetlands will be created adjacent to the A470 trunk road. These ponds/wetlands will act as a filtration system, gradually improving the quality of the run-off water from the road before it is discharged into the river.

C.19

Reduce criminality affecting freshwater pearl mussels

'River-watch' schemes will be established to raise awareness of the problems pearl mussels face from criminal activity. The schemes will be promoted in the local media and with relevant stakeholders including fishery boards and trusts, local communities, the police, conservation groups and others.  The Riverwatcher will visit 19 Scottish SACs twice per season to gather information on criminal activity.

Monitoring Actions

D.1

Monitor changes in pearl mussel and salmonid populations - Scotland

Pearl mussels are very slow-growing.  It is not expected that statistically significant increases in pearl mussel populations will be seen during the short life-time of this project. However, a number of 'proxy' measures will be used to ascertain whether conditions have improved for pearl mussels. Some baseline monitoring of mussel populations will take place, to ensure that meaningful comparisons can be made with data gathered in the future and to ensure that actions are properly targeted. Salmonids are much shorter-lived and their numbers can be expected to respond much more quickly to improvements in habitat conditions. Monitoring of freshwater pearl mussel and salmonid populations will take place prior to the implementation of the conservation actions. Repeat monitoring of salmonid populations will take place after the conservation actions to establish the extent of improvement.

D.2

Monitor changes in pearl mussel and salmonid populations - Wales

The monitoring will identify the abundance of host fish at a very local level, particularly in relation to location of the adult pearl mussels on the river.  Analysis of the relationship between the abundance of fish and the presence of freshwater pearl mussel will make the data more useful for targeting the concrete conservation actions.

D.3

Monitor changes in pearl mussel and salmonid populations - England

A monitoring program, using a variety of techniques, will be used to assess the health and response to catchment change of the FWPM population.  Population demographic monitoring will be undertaken at selected locations in the final year of the project to establish levels of population recovery. Host fish monitoring sites will be established which will include redd (spawning areas) counts in priority reaches.

D.4

Monitor changes in water quality - Scotland

Redox potential will be measured at sites where relevant concrete conservation actions are taking place. Redox potential can be measured using an electronic probe and provides an indication of current water quality. Measurements will be undertaken at the same time as other survey activities are taking place (e.g. electro-fishing / habitat surveys), during every year of the project.

D.5

Monitor changes in water quality - Wales

The deployment of a data logging sonde will provide accurate data showing trends in water quality.  The deployment of an auto sampler will allow the collection of sequential water samples which permits targeted investigations of sub-catchments within the target area.  Metals analysis will provide a better understanding of whether aluminium, copper or zinc levels are constraining the fish or mussel populations in the catchment. This will be carried out in the first two years of the project.  Invert and diatom monitoring will also be used at four locations throughout the catchment.  Redox potential monitoring will be completed. This work will indicate the success, or not, of the actions carried out by the project and will be repeated annually, during the summer months.

D.6

Monitor changes in water quality - England

Data logging equipment will be installed to collect data on pH, water temperature and suspended solids. Data analysis will be required and comparison of results within catchments and between catchments. Turbidity monitoring (using continuous data loggers/sondes) will be deployed to assist in understanding the amounts of suspended solids being delivered to the main river and transported on varying flow conditions. Autosamplers will be deployed to record suspended solid levels and nutrient spikes during flood events when direct sampling is not safe and most nutrients/sediments are being delivered.

D.7

Monitor salmonid encystment levels - Scotland

The glochidial load on salmonids will be monitored in late spring and autumn. This monitoring will take place in the Moriston and North Harris catchments and will be undertaken twice a year in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

D.8

Monitor salmonid encystment levels - Wales

The project needs to identify whether host fish specificity is an issue in the Afon Eden population. Intensive monitoring of encystment rates on brown trout and salmon should give a clearer picture and also indicate the productivity of the site in terms of pearl mussel glochidial encystment and subsequent juvenile mussel production. Encystment surveys will take place in 2013 through to 2015 at locations throughout the catchment.

D.9

Monitor salmonid encystment levels - England

Targeted electrofishing will be undertaken to monitor glochidia encystment in selected reaches of the River Ehen, and assess the impact of C17.

D.10

Monitor habitat quality - Scotland

Habitat monitoring will be completed in the Rivers Dee, Naver and South Esk, where the most extensive conservation actions are planned.  Monitoring will be undertaken within specified areas of the catchment during the summer months when water levels are at their lowest. It will take place in 2013 prior to the restoration work and in 2015 or 2016 when the restoration work is completed.

D.11

Monitor habitat quality - England

Monitoring surveys will include filamentous algal coverage, silt coverage and the fill rate of established silt traps to determine the impact of conservation actions.

D.12

Assess socio-economic benefits of the project

The project has the potential to deliver socio-economic benefits.  These will be measured at the beginning of the project and evaluated at the end of the project.  It is expected that the project will have socio-economic benefits for local salmonid fisheries, farmers and tourism.

D.13

Assess ecosystem function benefits of the project

Potential ecosystem benefits will be identified at the start of the project along with means of how they can be measured. This will allow relevant datasets to be requested or collated where necessary and any additional data to be collected within the project. These benefits to ecosystem function will be evaluated at the end of the project. It is expected that the project will have benefits to the ecosystem function of whole catchments, given the catchment scale actions that are to be implemented.

Raising Awareness

E.1

Local dissemination events and awareness raising

Dissemination workshops and events will be undertaken in all catchments where major conservation actions are taking place. These workshops will be for local stakeholders and will seek to raise awareness of the various issues which are being tackled in each catchment. The workshops will seek to energise and encourage local stakeholders in undertaking actions which may benefit the pearl mussel.

E.2

Production of project literature

A range of project literature will be produced, including leaflets and a layman’s' report which can be distributed widely. These items will provide useful information on both the pearl mussel and the actions within this project.

E.3

Creation of project website

A website for the project will be created.

E.4

Production of site signage/interpretation

Interpretation boards will be created and are expected to be located in the River Ehen, the Afon Eden, the River Dee, the River South Esk and the River Naver catchments. They will provide information on the work undertaken in the project as well as providing educational information on pearl mussel lifecycles and habitat requirements.

E.5

Delivery of 'Pearls in the classroom' educational programme

‘Pearls in the Classroom’ will raise awareness of the pearl mussel amongst school children of local communities as well as highlighting the species' important cultural history in Great Britain, its unusual lifecycle and that of its host species (salmon and trout). It will describe why the pearl mussel, salmon and trout are such an important part of the local river ecosystem.

E.6

Publication of articles in the technical press

A number of articles will be prepared for relevant technical magazines and journals. These articles will focus on the work undertaken in this project, the outcomes and benefits of that work and how lessons learnt within the project could potentially be applied elsewhere.

E.7

Project conference

A project conference will be organised at the end of the project. This will take place in spring/summer 2016 and is expected to involve one day of presentations / seminars and one day of visits to sites where concrete conservation actions have taken place.

E.8

Promote riverwatch schemes

A launch event will take place for each SAC that is participating in the river-watch scheme. The launches will focus on bringing together key stakeholders and encouraging general public participation.

E.9

Network with other relevant conservation projects

The PIP project will network with other relevant projects to exchange information and knowledge on techniques and actions.

E.10

Creating video podcasts of project actions

Video podcasts will provide a means to explain particular techniques and findings that engage a wider audience than those who may read about activities. Video podcasts of key actions will be produced as an alternative and will be uploaded onto the website for staff, partners and other stakeholders to view as required.

Project Reporting

F.1

Interim and final project audit

A financial audit of the project is required of the interim claim and the final claim.

F.2

Project monitoring reporting by SNH

This action allows time to set up clear systems of governance and monitoring of action delivery.  It includes Steering Group meetings, and reporting to partners and LIFE.

F.3

Produce after-LIFE conservation plan

This plan details how conservation activities are planned to continue and to develop after the end of the project, and how the longer-term management of the project sites will be assured.