The River Annan Trust (RAT) was set up in August 2010 to continue to improve and protect the rivers environment, engage in research towards better management of the resource, generate sustainable access to the river and to educate the general public on the importance of the river.
Whilst the trust is one of the newest river trusts in Scotland, it is in the fortunate position that it is able to build upon a wealth of work carried out by the River Annan District Salmon Fisheries Board. The Trust is currently actively involved in a number of projects some of which are listed below.
The removal of problem non native species has been funded by a number of organisations including Leader ERDF funds, SEPA, Patterson's Quarries, Scottish Government, RADSFB and Shanks Waste Solutions and SNH. Invasive non-native species pose a threat to the ecology of the river and tackling them is best done on a catchment scale, exactly the scale that a river trust operates on.
The mink caught in a humane trap.
We are currently involved on the eradication of Japanese knotweed, the eradication of giant hogweed, the control of Himalayan balsam and the control of North American mink. This project has been very successful with an 80% reduction in the amount of Japanese knotweed in the catchment and reduced area of infestation, the treatment of all of the known giant hogweed stands and the eradication of North American mink in the top section of the river.
To continue the success of this programme we still require more information from anglers about the whereabouts of new untreated stands of knotweed, balsam and giant hogweed, please look at the invasive species page on this website for further identification features and information. We also require more information about mink, the Trust is taking a strategic approach to their removal and is working from the top of the river south. Each year we have to go over the ground that we have already covered to ensure that they are still absent and any that are seen by anglers should be reported to the Trust.
One of the biggest issues when managing a fishery is the collection of large amounts of good quality data. This project seeks to harness the capacity of trained volunteers and get a better understanding of the invertebrate populations in the burns around the catchment. The use of invertebrates to measure water quality has long been understood and using simple methods developed by the River Fly Partnership (http://www.riverflies.org/) enables rivers trusts to understand where the problems are and investigate solutions.
Working with local schools and a local charity this page the trust is helping children in local primary schools to gain a better understanding of the freshwater environment and introduce them to the sport of angling. The trust introduces the children to water life, the fish, the invertebrates and the habitats that they live in whilst Borderlines coaches the children on angling methods and arranges a school trip to the river to undertake an angling day. The project is being piloted this year and will seek to gain funding to make it a permanent feature of the schools in Annandale. The majority of the activities take place in an after school club.
The River Annan Small Stream Passport has been developed to increase the access to unknown parts of the river in an affordable yet sustainable way. The project means that small amounts of income can be generated by farmers which will make the river at the bottom of their fields more valuable. Please go here for more information.
RAT is engaged with a number of organisations at the moment to build its capacity to deliver habitat improvement schemes; historically on the Annan, prior to the formation of the Trust, we have spent some Â£800,000 through the Fisheries Board and partners or so in the last few years on fencing river banks and removing barriers. . This work needs to continue as the benefits to the local ecosystem, the fish and angling are huge. In particular we want to concentrate on the tiny burns, unfortunately often called ditches. These burns are extremely important for sea trout in particular and whilst the river is generally in good heart for brown trout and salmon it is no secret that sea trout numbers have slumped in recent years.
We always need and welcome help be it financial, labour or advice. If you want to join the trust please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.