Incredible images of wild salmon, during their spawning season, have been captured by Wildlife Photographer, Jack Perks, as they travelled through the Rhug Estate recently as part of the European Union funded LIFE Dee River project.
Jack filmed and photographed the salmon on the Rhug Estate to help document the £6.8 million LIFE Dee River project which is facilitated by Natural Resources Wales, with funding also provided by Dwr Cymru, Environment Agency and Snowdonia National Park Authority.
The project aims to transform the River Dee and its catchment by restoring the river and its surroundings back to their natural state, most notably improving the numbers of salmon, lamprey and freshwater pearl mussels to help them become more sustainable in future.
The Dee is the largest river in north Wales with a catchment area of more than 1,800 km2. It is also one of the most highly regulated rivers in Europe, and along with Llyn Tegid it has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The Alwen and Camddwr rivers join the Dee between Cynwyd and Corwen collectively running through the Rhug Estate for eleven miles.
Lord Newborough, owner of Rhug Estate, said, “It is only natural that I would care for the rivers that run through the estate and the aquatic life that resides in them as much as I care for the land on our organic farm, the animals that we rear and the wildlife we encourage to visit. We are proud to be able to play our small part in this enormous project being managed by Natural Resources Wales.”
From its headwaters in the uplands of Snowdonia, the Dee descends via Llyn Tegid, the largest natural lake in Wales. After flowing through a broad valley to Corwen, it tumbles eastwards through the spectacular Vale of Llangollen, under the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct World Heritage Site, before breaching the Welsh foothills near Bangor-on-Dee, and meandering northwards through the Cheshire plain to its tidal limit just below Chester.
The main uses of the River Dee are farming, predominantly cattle and sheep grazing; water abstraction for water supply for 2.5m people; tourism including recreational angling, canoeing and navigation and nature conservation.
Rhug Estate takes its job as a custodian of the land very seriously. Almost 9km of riverside corridors have been introduced so the livestock cannot get to the river’s edge. This means the riversides have been fenced off so as to protect the waterways, the riverbanks and encourage habitats for wildlife.
Joel Rees-Jones, LIFE Dee River Project Manager, said, “The communities living along the River Dee and Llyn Tegid will be at the heart of this project. We will work closely with local stakeholders to ensure they understand the biological, social and economic value of the habitats and species found within the river, that contribute to the designation as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
“We look forward to working with land managers and farmers throughout the catchment to improve these important habitats, supporting the future sustainability of rare species for which the Dee is famed for worldwide. Creating fenced riverside corridors, similar to those carried out by Rhug Estate will be core to this work, as well as tree planting, soil profiling and pollution prevention advice.”
The image is one that Jack Perk took of the salmon