Discover Johnstons of Elgin

Tales from the Riverbank


Environmental responsibility is woven into the very fabric of our business, and we understand that thriving communities and healthy ecosystems go hand-in-hand. As we celebrate one year as a certified B Corp, we delve into some of the inspiring local projects making a difference in our own backyard.


The Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie Rivers Trust has been around for over 15 years and has evolved its identity from solely looking after salmon and trout to looking more holistically at the river catchment as a whole. The Trust now engages in issues such as habitat restoration and climate mitigation, establishing supportive measures to help the fish - and their surroundings - thrive. 

Sustainability Specialist Elle Adams approached the Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie Rivers Trust around two years ago to launch the Findorn Watershed Initiative.

‘I was doing a lot of work on a national level, working on economic policy and corporate social responsibility. During lockdown, I decided I wanted to get involved in something local where I could feel like I was making a tangible change. So, I reached out to the Rivers Trust to pitch developing this project and fundraising for it. 

‘The main premise is about nature restoration, planting more native trees along our riverbanks to try to shade the rivers and lower the water temperatures because as the climate breakdown happens, the rivers are getting warmer, and that's not good for the survival of the salmon. Going beyond that, we're looking at the wider watershed area and landscape as a whole and how we can support the different landowners and managers along the river to steward the land in a way that is good for nature and the climate, as well as good for their businesses.'

Discover Johnstons of Elgin


The Findhorn Watershed Initiative is working its way downstream from the source, and currently has around 15 different projects in development with landowners, including a large-scale woodland restoration scheme. The project also recognises the importance of engaging the local community.

'Nature recovery is only going to be lasting if we can inspire the people who live and work in the landscapes to care about it. If the next generation doesn't care about the river and the wildlife, no one will be there to look after it into the future.'


Alongside practical restoration work. To help understand where species were once more prevalent the Initiative has commissioned two researchers in residence to look at the names on old maps of the area and translate them from Gaelic to English. For example, the name 'The Burn of the Alder' suggests that alder trees should be present in a particular area.

The researchers also uncovered forgotten songs and stories about the landscape of the upper River Findhorn in the archives, some of which hadn’t been heard for hundreds of years. A concert in the local village hall allowed musicians to play the songs and bring them back to life for the community.


The Findhorn Watershed Initiative also aims to creating training and employment opportunities. For example, deer reduction is a national effort due to the impact of their overgrazing on the ecosystem. The Initiative wants to ensure that new jobs and training opportunities are created in the process, and that the venison produced stays local, encouraging people to buy, cook and eat the meat.

Discover Johnstons of Elgin


The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI) is also led by the Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie Rivers Trust. The project tackles invasive non-native species along rivers and watercourses in the north of Scotland. Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) are a significant threat to the countryside, native wildlife, the economy and, in some cases, directly to health. SISI works with volunteers and communities, trialling innovative management techniques to implement sustainable long-term solutions. Local INNS include Giant Hogweed, Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and mink.

Discover Johnstons of Elgin


This project brings together enthusiastic citizen scientists who are passionate about coastal marine ecosystems. They aim to accelerate marine habitat restoration along the coast of the Cromarty, Beauly, Inverness and Moray Firths, participating in projects such as snorkelling to survey and map Seagrass. 

Discover Johnstons of Elgin


This north-east Scottish charity aims to restore woodlands, support local food sustainability and aid the mental and physical well-being of the community. Forres Friends of Woods and Fields (FFWF) projects include planting tree saplings, forest flowers, and other flora to generate growth and biodiversity and restore the habitat of many forest animals. The group also manage invasive species, such as laurel and rhododendron.

FFWF operates a dedicated growing space with a community garden and a smaller children's garden. They use regenerative agricultural practices to help the gardens thrive. Members and volunteers can learn about soil ecology, organic gardening practices, and how to grow their own food while finding a connection with one another. They recently received funding from the Just Transition Participatory Budgeting Fund for a solar-powered potting shed, compost loo, and tool shed at their community garden.