Case study: Rottal Burn restoration

The River South Esk in Glen Clova is one of Scotland’s leading salmon rivers. It is designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for both Atlantic salmon and the freshwater pearl mussel. The Rottal Burn is a major tributary of the River South Esk. However in an effort to reduce flooding in the area early in the 19th Century, the Rottal Burn was radically straightened by digging a new channel which effectively destroyed the habitat for fish.

Around 2012 a partnership involving SEPA, SNH, Landowners, the Local Authority and the Esk Rivers & Fisheries Trust brought about the restoration of 800 metres of canalised burn to its original meandering course with the planting of several thousand native tree species. The result has been a return to a more natural flow regime. This has created a diverse riparian and aquatic habitat and brought visual enhancement of the area. It is hoped that the restoration of this dynamic geodiversity feature will in time encourage the return of freshwater pearl mussels to the Rottal burn.

The restoration of this Angus Burn, to its original meandering course, illustrates how consideration and appropriate management of dynamic geodiversity features can benefit biodiversity.


Rottal Burn before and after. Images courtesy K. MacDougal, Enviro Centre Ltd