Difference between revisions of "Case study:Pearls in Peril LIFE+ GB Project - River Spey"

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|Main contact forename=Jackie
|Main contact forename=Jackie
|Main contact surname=Webley
|Main contact surname=Webley
|Contact organisation=SNH
|Contact organisation=Scottish Natural Heritage
|Contact organisation url=www.snh.gov.uk/
|Contact organisation url=www.snh.gov.uk/
|Partner organisations=RAFTS, Forestry Commission,
|Partner organisations=RAFTS, Forestry Commission,

Revision as of 13:15, 6 June 2017

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Location: 57° 0' 29", -4° 35' 47"
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Project overview

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Status In progress
Project web site http://www.pearlsinperil.org.uk/
Themes Environmental flows and water resources, Fisheries, Habitat and biodiversity, Hydromorphology, Land use management - agriculture, Land use management - forestry, Monitoring, Water quality
Country Scotland
Main contact forename Jackie
Main contact surname Webley
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation Scottish Natural Heritage
Contact organisation web site http://www.snh.gov.uk/
Partner organisations RAFTS, Forestry Commission
Parent multi-site project

Case_study:Pearls in Peril LIFE+ GB Project

This is a parent project
encompassing the following
Pearls in Peril logo

Project summary

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What’s important about PIP?

Great Britain contains a significant quantity of the known breeding populations of freshwater pearl mussel in Europe. The PIP Project has crucial implications for the whole of the EU. Without this project, it is likely that mussel populations in Britain will continue to decline with possible extinction in many rivers. Given the importance of the British populations in a European and global context, their loss would have a catastrophic impact on the overall survival of the freshwater pearl mussel in Europe.

It is essential that we work together to improve our water courses to give this amazing animal a chance of survival. This ancient and internationally protected species cleans our rivers and can live for over 100 years. Improving watercourses not only helps freshwater pearl mussel, it also benefits the whole river ecosystem. PIP will raise awareness of the issues and work with local communities, landowners and managers to make changes that will safeguard the future of the freshwater pearl mussel.

Who we are……

‘Pearls in Peril’ (PIP) is a UK wide LIFE nature project with 22 partners working together to restore river habitats benefiting freshwater pearl mussel and salmonids (salmon and trout). The project was approved by LIFE in September 2012 and will run until September 2016. A total of 48 actions will be delivered across 21 rivers designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for freshwater pearl mussel.

What are our aims.....

The freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) is declining dramatically throughout its range and is under grave threat within Great Britain. Mussel populations have been affected by multiple issues, including wildlife crime, habitat degradation and declining water quality. This project will help to safeguard the future of the most important pearl mussel populations in Great Britain by tackling these threats and implementing best practice conservation methods. The project has the following aims:

1. To RESTORE the habitat of freshwater pearl mussels and salmonids in selected river catchments within Great Britain.

2. To SECURE the long term survival of existing freshwater pearl mussel populations and prevent their further degradation.

3. To COMMUNICATE with local, national and international audiences to raise awareness of freshwater pearl mussel conservation issues.

What are we doing to RESTORE habitat......

We are promoting and facilitating the use of suitable agri-environment schemes by land managers and are using these schemes to implement riparian tree planting and the fencing of river banks to improve bank stability and reduce silt input to the water course.

Sites have been identified for in stream restoration that will most benefit pearl mussels and salmonids (Atlantic salmon and trout). This involves seeding river beds with gravel and removing artificial river structures such as croys and weirs to reinstate river bed habitat for juvenile mussels and fish.

In areas where commercial forestry takes place, and which was planted prior to the use of current good practice guidance, silt run-off can cause significant damage to potential freshwater pearl mussel and salmonid habitat. Riparian tree planting using native broadleaves will occur and man-made drainage ditches will be blocked to reduce silt and nutrient run-off and improve water quality.

Some catchments have high levels of silt and nutrient enriched water draining off the slopes into the river. A series of strategically positioned ponds and wetlands will be created to intercept enriched run-off before it reaches the river to improve water quality.

How do we SECURE the long term survival of freshwater pearl mussel.......

A seasonal Riverwatcher is employed to develop a ‘riverwatcher’ scheme in selected catchments within Scotland where illegal pearl fishing and unauthorised river works are still a threat. The scheme will raise awareness of the threats to the freshwater pearl mussel and will undertake coordinated action to prevent and report illegal activity.

In some rivers pearl mussel populations are too small for natural recovery to be guaranteed. The PIP project is collecting mussel larvae (glochidia) and introducing the larvae onto the gills of young salmon and trout (encystment) to mimic the natural lifecycle of the mussel and increase the juvenile freshwater pearl mussel population.

What tools are being used to COMMUNICATE........

To promote awareness of the freshwater pearl mussel amongst the younger generation an educational programme 'Pearls in the Classroom' is being delivered across selected catchments. This will also help to deliver the objective of securing populations by encouraging local families to recognise the damage that illegal activities can cause.

A range of dissemination events will take place throughout the project. These will focus on different audiences and will raise awareness of the actions taken during the project and how they can be applied more widely.

It will include the delivery of presentations, seminars and interpretation material and the organising of a final project conference.

Monitoring work is being implemented to ensure the project delivers its expected results as well as adequately monitors the project impacts. Monitoring will include: •water quality; •habitat; •freshwater pearl mussels; •host salmonids; and •levels of uptake and implementation of habitat restoration measures.

LIFE Administrative data:

Project reference LIFE11 NAT/UK/000383

Duration 03-SEP-2012 to 02-SEP -2016
Total budget 4,617,398.00 €

EU contribution 2,293,990.00 €


- Facilitate and implement improved riparian habitat in the River Spey - 17.5km of riparian enhancements was carried out.

- Work with land managers to develop Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) riparian planting schemes on the River Spey.

- Monitor changes in pearl mussel and salmonid populations. Pearl mussels are very slow-growing. It is not expected that statistically significant increases in pearl mussel populations will be seen during the short life-time of this project. However, a number of 'proxy' measures will be used to ascertain whether conditions have improved for pearl mussels. Some baseline monitoring of mussel populations will take place, to ensure that meaningful comparisons can be made with data gathered in the future and to ensure that actions are properly targeted. Salmonids are much shorter-lived and their numbers can be expected to respond much more quickly to improvements in habitat conditions. Monitoring of freshwater pearl mussel and salmonid populations will take place prior to the implementation of the conservation actions. Repeat monitoring of salmonid populations will take place after the conservation actions to establish the extent of improvement.


Monitoring surveys and results

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Lessons learnt

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Image gallery

In-stream restoration and area of conservation action on the Upper Spey
In-stream restoration and area of conservation action on the Lower Spey

Catchment and subcatchment


Name River Spey
WFD water body codes
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name
Pre-project morphology
Reference morphology
Desired post project morphology
Heavily modified water body No
National/international site designation
Local/regional site designations
Protected species present No
Invasive species present No
Species of interest
Dominant hydrology
Dominant substrate
River corridor land use
Average bankfull channel width category
Average bankfull channel width (m)
Average bankfull channel depth category
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s)
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient
Average unit stream power (W/m2)

Project background

Reach length directly affected (m)
Project started
Works started
Works completed
Project completed
Total cost category
Total cost (k€)
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design
Stakeholder engagement and communication
Works and works supervision
Post-project management and maintenance

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure poor salmonid habitat; to safeguard the future of the most important pearl mussel populations in Great Britain
Other reasons for the project


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications
Floodplain / River corridor Habitat enhancement
Planform / Channel pattern
Non-structural measures
Management interventions
Social measures (incl. engagement) Student Education


Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Biological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative
Fish Yes Yes No Yes No
Invertebrates Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Physico-chemical quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Monitoring documents

Additional documents and videos

Additional links and references

Link Description

Supplementary Information

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