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Friday, June 21, 2024

Strategic Felling on The River Feshie Helping to Fight Flooding

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A natural solution is being used to combat issues caused by frequent flooding and help protect rare species and designated habitats at the confluence of two Strathspey rivers.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has removed 40 hectares of mature conifers to create a natural flood plain at the point where the River Feshie meets the River Spey.

It is hoped the newly created open space, together with the regeneration of native species will help slow the Feshie when in full flow to let suspended gravel deposit safely and water disperse more widely.   

FLS Environment Advisor Colin Leslie said:

“The River Feshie is a highly dynamic river and the large amounts of gravel that the river can transport when in spate regularly causes flooding issues.

“Where the River Feshie meets the River Spey, the gravel is deposited and forms an alluvial fan that also creates a plug effect.

“This underwater dam can raise the river levels and flood land both upstream and downstream.

“Previous management involved building hundreds of metres of flood defences – some built by Napoleonic prisoners of war – and dredging the river channel.

“Neither of these activities are suitable in such important habitats.

“The area will now be left to regenerate with native species and the combination of riparian woodland and the open area should create a nature-based solution to a long-term problem.”

FLS staff and contractors had to work in a challenging environment that included operating heavy machinery in the flood plain and near highly designated habitats.

The development and effectiveness of the site will be monitored as part of the Cairngorms Connect project over the coming years. 

River Feshie flood work after © Cairngorms Connect

Mr Leslie added that the work also revealed the source of a local legend.   

“A large mound – fabled to be the burial site of a Viking ship – was uncovered in the middle of the felled area.

“Despite archaeological investigations having shown it to be a natural feature there are some still to be convinced and are keeping a close eye on it.”

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