River Calder Riparian Planting Project
Eadha Enterprises are developing new aspen riparian woodlands in and around Lochwinnoch focusing on the River Calder. An Aspen Tree Day was held in March 2013 where 100 aspen trees were planted by the River Calder by 22 eager volunteers of all ages despite the biting east wind.
This event helped to raise the profile of aspen with the creation of a sustainable population in a highly accessible and visual location.
A total of 9 clones from the West of Scotland were planted in discrete groups. The trees grown by Eadha were robust 3-4 year old trees and were of a sufficient size that they did not require protection or staking allowing for a more naturalistic planting with minimal intrusion to the SSSI at Castle Semple.
The extensive root systems of the trees should allow rapid establishment and will spread laterally to provide ground stablisation benefits in the longer term. The river banks are subject to erosion along this stretch of the Calder and subsidence at the site which is contributing to the problem of siltation in Castle Semple loch.
In addition to tree tree planting aspen roots were also buried along the edge of the river bank. This exploits aspen's ability to grow suckers from its roots even once the roots has been removed from the host tree. The roots should form a thicket of growth which will help to bind the loose alluvial soils and help to reduce bank erosion.
Aspen is a keystone riparian species but is currently missing from the riparian ecosystem in the valley and the planting will immediately improve the riparian habitat.
The leaf fall from aspen will also benefit fish life as they break down at a different rate to other tree species, extending the period where food is available. In addition, aspen is the key food of the beaver and Eadha is currently promoting the idea of beaver reintroduction in the Lochwinnoch Lochwinnoch area (see Lochwinnoch Beaver Project). Expanding aspen riparian woodlands across Scotland is critical in advance of a national reintroduction.