River Goil Habitat Improvement

River Goil Habitat Improvement

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The River Goil has suffered for many years from excessive erosion. The banks wear away so quickly that the fences are washed away and the eroded silt deposits on the river bed destroying the habitat for the successful breeding and rearing of fish.

Bank erosion is a natural process but, like so many things in our countryside, man has interfered with nature and made things worse. In the 19th century part of the river and its tributary streams were straightened. In more recent times the grazing of livestock has weakened the banks, compacted the soil, removed vegetation and prevented the natural regeneration of bankside trees. The cattle need to be excluded from the river but the erosion of the river destroys the fences and the livestock get into the river and that makes the erosion worse. It’s a vicious circle.

Over the last 18 months the Argyll Fisheries Trust (AFT) has embarked on a scheme to improve the habitat with help from the National Park, the Jackson family farmers, the Angling Club and others.

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The objective is to slow down the erosion process. The first step is to prevent the livestock from poaching the river banks. This was done by erecting a new fence and leaving enough buffer area for new trees to establish and strengthen the banks. Next we planted native broadleaf trees between the new fence and the river bank. Once these trees are established their roots will help to bind together the soil and stabilise the
banks slowing down the erosion. Finally, in the worst places we are protecting the eroded banks by constructing brash revetment; applying green engineering techniques in order to reduce the exacerbated erosion. The only revetment completed so far was constructed by driving stakes into the river bed and densely packing wood brash and live willow branches behind the stakes. The whole revetment is then held in place by wires providing a natural protection to the bank.

So far we have fenced 2.4km of banking, planted 1250 trees and built one bank revetment. We will try to construct more revetments this year. More than £30,000 has been spent on fencing and trees. Maja Pepper from AFT has led a team of volunteers from the village, angling club, the National Park and the Wild Trout Trust to plant the trees and construct the revetment. Finance was provided by the Angling Club, District Salmon Fishery Board, National Park, Woodland Trust, Forestry Commission Scotland, EB Landfill. Our thanks to all the funders, the volunteers and the Jackson family.

Roger Brook

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