Slowing the flow

Loch Lomond NNR

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The marr burn choked up with brash

The mainland part of the Loch Lomond reserve to the north of the Endrick is a bit of a mess. Trees of all shapes, ages and sizes lie in all directions, many blown flat or leaning but still growing. Some have fallen across streams, choking the flow of water, backing it up and causing the banks to break. It has a look of neglect and lack of management.

But all of this is good.

So much of the UK is heavily influenced and managed by human activity. There are few areas that are left for nature to run wild, especially in the lowlands. Here in these wetlands at Loch Lomond NNR the natural process are allowed to happen and this has great benefits for wildlife – this is one of the most biodiverse areas in Scotland. The Scottish dock, a plant only found in the south-east part of Loch Lomond in the UK, has its strong hold on the reserve. There is a huge species lists of birds, flowering plants and invertebrates. There are even insects that specialise in living on the wet, woody debris that blocks up streams so this reserve is great for them. The only form of habitat management is that SNH pay the landowner to graze parts of the site very lightly with cattle and sheep.

But this management isn’t just for nature. This helps people. By holding the water on the reserve for longer, slowing the flow and letting it spread out across the low lying land this reduces the amount of flood water flowing out of the Endrick into Loch Lomond at any one time. But the mouth of the Endrick is right in the reserve so does this matter? What impact does it have?

It matters when you look to see where all of the water from the whole of the Loch Lomond catchment flows. It squeezes out along the Vale of Leven to the Clyde, through and by several communities such as Alexandria, Renton and Dumbarton. A look at the SEPA  potential flooding report on the area shows that up to 3300 homes could be affected by flooding and the average annual damages for that area is £17 million (SEPA definition =Annual Average Damages are the theoretical average economic damages caused by flooding when considered over a very long period of time. ). Obviously by allowing flooding on the Loch Lomond rerserve isn’t going to completely save the Vale of Leven from flooding but it will help reduce the damage and misery caused by flooding in this area. So suddenly the small amount of money spent on these places for nature can seem pretty good value in the long run when looking at the wider area. 

For more information of the SEPA report follow this link here.

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Trees of all ages.

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Some leaning

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Some blown flat but still growing

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If it is difficult to walk through often it is good for wildlife.

This wetland is home to special species such as the Scottish dock and whopper swans

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