Con­ser­va­tion re­port

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Contents -

The green tur­tle’s di­etary dif­fi­cul­ties

In Au­gust, ju­ve­nile At­lantic sal­mon were spot­ted in the Elan River in mid-Wales for the first time in more than 40 years. It’s an im­por­tant step in the re­cov­ery of the river, which had grad­u­ally been de­pleted of aquatic life fol­low­ing the con­struc­tion of the Elan Val­ley dams in 1904. Gravel has played a huge role in this turn­around.

The re­cent dis­cov­ery comes in the wake of a three-year ini­tia­tive by the Wye and Usk Foun­da­tion, along with part­ners Dwr Cymru Welsh Wa­ter and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wales, to re­store the ecol­ogy of 7km of this trib­u­tary of the Wye, near the dams. These struc­tures had pre­vented riverbed gravel flow­ing down to the lower Elan, while ex­ist­ing sed­i­ment had been washed away, leav­ing lit­tle habi­tat to sup­port life.

Un­der the ini­tia­tive, 2,300 tonnes of new gravel have been de­posited in the river over the past two years, with reg­u­lar top-ups planned. Ini­tial sur­veys in 2017 re­vealed in­ver­te­brates in the grav­elled area, while adult sal­mon were de­tected spawn­ing there last win­ter. Sal­mon and brown trout fry were spot­ted near Elan vil­lage in Au­gust – the first time they’ve been seen there since the 1970s.

Tony Har­ring­ton, di­rec­tor of en­vi­ron­ment at Dwr Cymru Welsh Wa­ter, says: “We are de­lighted with the re­sults of this pro­ject. This is a great ex­am­ple of where our fund­ing to re­store a habi­tat has de­liv­ered real eco­log­i­cal im­prove­ments.” C Vaughan

FIND OUT MORE

Grav­el­ling the Elan: wyeusk­foun­da­tion.org

At­lantic sal­mon are start­ing to re­turn to the Elan River.

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