During the Spring of 2012, 2013, and 2014, Loughs Agency, in partnership with Woodland Trust and with the agreement of local landowners, planted 10,000 mixed species native trees along both banks of the River Roe in the upper Glenshane area.
This section of the river holds good populations of salmon and trout and a varied mixture of habitat for fish of all ages. However, surveys highlighted that the riparian zones on both banks were devoid of tree cover, with only small numbers of coniferous pine trees present.
Riparian tree planting undertaken by Loughs Agency sought to address several issues:
Given current trends for prolonged dry spells in summer, the trees will provide valuable shade along the riverbank and a much-needed cooling effect during these times. Fallen leaf litter will help increase populations of instream bug life for fish to prey upon. In addition, the trees provide a much-needed biodiversity corridor in this upland area.
Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency CEO said: “In a climate of ever-increasing pressure upon the environment and natural resources, these schemes meet Loughs Agency's core responsibility of protecting and conserving freshwater fish stocks. They also help protect rivers, slow the flow, capture carbon. and provide an aesthetically pleasing biodiversity corridor adjacent to one of our most travelled routes.”
During planting, tree guards were put in place to protect young saplings from sheep, hares and deer. In this exposed environment, the guards also protect the trees from the elements.
Loughs Agency fenced off the left-hand bank of the riparian zone during the winter of 2019. The trees were maturing, and with reduced threat of damage from animals, the phased removal of guards commenced. Last week over 3,000 guards were removed and sent for recycling.