Landscape-scale, ecosystem-wide conservation

In the North-West Highlands of Scotland, we continued to deliver our landscape-scale, ecosystem-wide conservation project to restore wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout populations in partnership with conservation charity the Atlantic Salmon Trust. 

In addition to ongoing activities such as surveying and monitoring the environment and tagging over 2,000 fish, during 2023 we completed a detailed catchment audit to improve our understanding of the River Laxford’s condition, capacity to support salmon and trout, and the key factors limiting fish populations, informing where to prioritise restoration efforts for the greatest effect. 

We hosted an engagement and information event to inform our local communities about the project as well as a separate session for key stakeholders where we invited conservation organisations from across the UK – including representatives from the Scottish Government, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Wildlife Trusts – to hear about the far-reaching plans. 

One of the aims of the project is to share the knowledge gained to benefit other river systems across the North Atlantic. The first paper, informed by research on the Laxford, was published in the journal Ecology of Freshwater Fish. The research found the first evidence of salmon parr maturing and subsequently smolting (where the young fish goes through physical changes in readiness for its ocean journey) within the same 12-month period. Scientists previously thought these two energy-demanding processes could not take place so close together, or that if they did it would harm populations of the fish.

Find out more about Project Laxford

Group 2