RiverLife: Almond and Avon - Aspen Project

RiverLife: Almond & Avon is an ambitious 4 year project being delivered by Forth Rivers Trust making improvements to both the River Almond and Avon catchments. The project has been working with communities between 2017 and 2020 to carry out a range of engagement and restoration work to improve historic issues but engage communities with their local rivers.

RiverLife has a number of projects which include:

  • River Almond Barriers Project 
  • Killandean Blue/Green Network
  • Upper Avon Enhancement Project
  • Bathgate Water Restoration
  • Riverfly Monitoring
  • Almond/Avon Invasive Non-Native Species
  • Training
  • Engagement
  • Volunteering

As a partner in RiverLife, Eadha has delivered a number of activities focused on aspen as a key riparian tree species. The objectives of this Aspen Project were:

  • Species Conservation
  • Awareness Raising and Education
  • Citizen Science
  • Habitat creation and enhancement

Education

We have delivered the Aspen in the Class project, working with four primary school in West Lothian (Riverside PS, Livingston, St Marys PS. Polbeth, Midcalder PS, Whitecross PS) to grow 2000 aspen trees for planting out at nearby rivers.  Classroom presentations were also conducted about aspen.

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Citizen Science Project

A key part of the Aspen Project was to identify native wild stands of aspen in West Lothian.  While there were a number of botanical records of aspen in the area, the quality of the records was poor and many aspen were suspected to be planted. We delivered an aspen information and identification workshop to local people and then recruited volunteers to help survey and locate aspen stands.  Each individual was allocated a 1km grid square to survey.  Unfortunately all the aspen located by volunteers were indeed considered to be planted.  This led to a focus of collecting cuttings from the nearest verified native wild clone, located within the Pentland Hills.  Eadha led a trip with Polbeth Venture Scouts to the clone in spring 2019 where we collected root cuttings for propagation at Polbeth Community Garden where the scouts were based.  Here we conducted an aspen propagation workshop.

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Aspen Planting

A total of 400 aspen trees were planted at various sites across the project area, however, due to Covid restrictions, the original planned school planting events had to be cancelled in favour of public volunteering events. More information here.

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