Community conservation on the Carloway Estate
The key objectives of the Trust are to advance community development as well as the sustainable development and conservation of the natural environment.
Urras Oighreachd Chàrlabhaigh (Carloway Estate Trust) was established in 2014 and is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee. The charity is a community landowner on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland having purchased the Carloway Estate in May 2015. The estate itself covers 11,500 acres on the northwest coast of the Isle of Lewis. The key objectives of the Carloway Estate Trust are to advance community development as well as the sustainable development and conservation of the natural environment. Service provision includes angling and river restoration activities, community asset transfers and general estate management.
In 2021, Carloway Estate Trust was awarded a grant of £9,251.00 under the Wild Salmonid Support Fund. The grant will allow the Trust to undertake a practical project which will see the import of 90 tonnes of suitably sized rounded gravel. This gravel will be distributed across a stretch of the Carloway River with the aim of improving spawning habitats for wild salmonids. Activities will be overseen by the Trust’s angling group and local volunteers will also be on hand to assist in the practical activities. For the purpose of this project, the Trust will work in close partnership with the Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust who will be on hand to provide expertise and advice on gravel size and site location.
Carloway Estate Trust’s project is underway. In September, the Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust conducted a number of site visits to determine which stretches of the Carloway River would benefit from gravel distribution. Several ‘gravel points’ were highlighted by the Trust and all findings were then reviewed by the angling sub-group. A final site which has adequate access to the road has been identified and practical activities will commence in April/May 2022 when water levels will be lower and the site will be easily accessible. Carloway Estate Trust has identified a local contractor for the gravel and talks have commenced with the local quarry to ensure that price points are met and deliveries scheduled. No supply or demand issues are envisaged due to the use of a local business which in turn is contributing to the circular economy of the island.
A real strength of this project has been the level of support from the local community. Over the summer of 2021, the angling sub-group contributed to a number of ‘walk and talk’ sessions which explored salmon migration and the Carloway River system. These proved to be a success with locals and Carloway Estate Trust hopes to organise a similar event to accompany this project. This will ensure that the project will be made accessible to those external to the sector and could encourage further community buy-in.