A partnership between the Loughs Agency and the Woodland Trust, with support from Northern Ireland Water and the backing of local farmers, has been responsible for over 2,500 native trees along the banks of the Burntollet River in Derry.
The project will eventually cover a 10-mile strip along the banks of the river.
Dave Scott, the Woodland Trust’s Treescape Development Lead, said: “This is a perfect example of how the economy and conservation can benefit in equal measure.
“As well as helping river quality, trees can help stop money from, literally, going down the drain. As the trees mature, their roots will help to bind and strengthen the sides of the river preventing erosion.
“In the Faughan Valley, landowners have seen parts of their fields essentially wash away, and while trees can’t solve everything, they certainly could have reduced the damage. Trees planted in the right place also help to prevent the run-off of resources such as fertilisers – soil erosion and nutrient loss are a real cost to the farming business.”
Art Niven, Fisheries Biologist with the Loughs Agency, said: “The Loughs Agency appreciates the need for diverse riverside areas that act as a buffer between the land and our watercourses.
“Native fish species and other aquatic plants and animals benefit from native trees in a number of ways, including the provision of shade which keep our rivers cool during the summer months.
“Salmon and trout in particular require cooler water temperatures. In recent years the Loughs Agency have recorded water temperatures of 27°C in tributaries of the Foyle where no trees are present along the river corridor.”