River South Esk Catchment Partnership

The River South Esk catchment is the area of land drained by the river and its burns, including its lochs, groundwaters, wetlands, and the unique estuary of Montrose Basin.

This water resource is of immense value to a variety of users from the local community, to businesses, and tourism providers. 

It is a source of drinking water, irrigation for crops, watering for livestock, a valuable habitat for wildlife, and acts as a basis for tourism, recreation and salmon fishing.

Managing the catchment sustainably

From 2009-17 the River South Esk Catchment Partnership sustainability managed the catchment through the implementation of the River South Esk Catchment Management Plan (9 MB PDF).

The River South Esk Catchment Management Plan Review 2017 highlights the successful delivery of approximately 90% of actions, all contributing to improving the health of the catchment.

Catchment Management Plan 2 

The partnership aims to produce a second catchment management plan, to be delivered from 2022-30. Priorities and aspirations during this time will focus on the environmental, people and economic opportunities. They include: 

  • improving ecological connectivity 
  • riparian woodland expansion 
  • invasive non-native species control 
  • climate change adaptation 
  • peatland restoration 
  • natural flood management 
  • community resilience 
  • fish population monitoring 
  • community volunteering 
  • tourism 
  • economic development

The priorities we have identified are linked in many ways and a healthy river catchment underpins them all.

More information is also available on the River South Esk website.

Wild South Esk

The River South Esk is home to home to some of the most varied wildlife in Scotland. The rivers in the catchment are a Special Area of Conservation because of their Atlantic salmon and freshwater pearl mussel. 

Years of human activity have changed the natural state of the river. Farming and forestry have altered or led to the loss of habitats, leading to a decline in the species they support. We're working to address these issues through nature-based solutions – an approach to conservation that aims to restore and work with natural processes.

More information on wildlife and projects is available on the Wild South Esk website.