Skip to content
Home » Projects » Allt Lorgy River Restoration Project

Allt Lorgy River Restoration Project

    A tributary of the River Dulnain close to Carrbridge, the Allt Lorgy was historically straightened for agricultural purposes and was not functioning naturally, with poor ecological condition in places, and was causing flooding and maintenance problems for the landowner.

    In 2012 an innovative ‘stage zero’ approach project, the first of its kind in Scotland, was trialled on a 880m reach. By removing artificial engineered constraints and encouraging natural river processes to return, the burn was allowed to restore itself to a more meandering channel with an abundance of physical features such as pools and riffles, which in turn provide valuable habitat for fish and other aquatic species. The over-grazed, bare flood plain was reconnected to the river and turned into thriving riparian woodland with wet areas, creating more new high quality habitat.

    After over a decade the maturing project site is now celebrated as a pioneering success story in process-based river restoration and has inspired many other similar projects.

    In 2020 the Allt Lorgy Project won the UK Rivers Prize (find out more here).

    Image caption: Unfortunately,we don’t have many images of the site before our interventions were made. But as you can see from the image above, the burn was embanked on both sides, running straight through the landscape. Boulders had been added to the burn and due to grazing by deer, sheep and cows, there was no natural regeneration along either banks. Thankfully, you can see the mature seed source, which really helped to kick start the native woodland regeneration you’ll see in the images below.

    The new habitats created within the river, around the large woody structures, and on the banks provide excellent conditions for wildlife and support an increased diversity and abundance of river life. One of the highlights is the marked increase in breeding populations of salmon and trout. The now vibrant, wooded floodplain with areas of wetland and wet woodland is a much more diverse landscape than the previous heavily grazed pasture and is home to a much wider array of insect, bird, amphibian and mammal species.

    In response to climate change, the Allt Lorgy project has a role in both mitigation and adaptation. The restoration efforts will lead to improved carbon sequestration potential through the establishment of native woodland, re-wetting of soils and retention of fine sediment and organic matter in the catchment. Additionally, the creation of deeper pools and the shade provided by both bankside trees and the large woody structures within the river, have made the river and its inhabitants more resilient to increasing water temperature and more frequent flooding. The flood plain woodland and more complex channel form will play a part in slowing flood flows, reducing the need for maintenance by humans and contributing to controlling flood risk downstream.

    Learn more about this project

    Deep dive into this project by downloading a biodiversity monitoring report for this site.