JO GIRVAN of the Forth Rivers Trust carefully wades up the Dollar Burn sweeping an anode into the swirling pools ahead of her.

The anode looks a bit like a mine detector and she is using it to electro-fish in the burn – an effective technique for live-capturing fish without harming them. The electric current temporarily stuns the fish, thus enabling them to be easily caught. Any fish that are missed, recover within seconds and dart back to the bottom of the burn.

Suddenly, a flash of silver appears at her feet, which is scooped up into a net by fellow fisheries biologist David Eastwood who is wading just behind. It is a young salmon – or parr as it is known – which is quickly emptied into a bucket of water. Special interest is taken in any tiny fry that are caught, as this indicates the success or otherwise of the previous winter’s spawning season.

Jo was especially keen to electro-fish in this part of the Dollar Burn as a new fish pass had been installed there a few years ago by the Ochils Landscape Partnership to encourage salmon to spawn in the higher reaches of the burn.

At about the same time, the Forth Rivers Trust had renovated and improved an existing fish ladder on a nearby weir on the River Devon – but had this work led to an increase in young salmon?

Well, over the course of about an hour or so we caught a good number of juvenile brown trout and several salmon parr too. The fish caught are carefully recorded and measured, and then released back into the burn.

Although the number of young salmon caught was relatively small – it was still more than from a previous sampling, and by doing such monitoring on a regular basis, long-term biological trends can be identified.

The Forth Rivers Trust works closely with organisations such as the Devon Angling Association to help ensure the River Devon and its associated tributary burns are ecologically healthy. Not only does this benefit the fish, but it also ensures that other wildlife dependent upon the river thrive, including dippers, otters , sand martins and bats.

And when the wildlife around us prospers, then so do we, for a healthy environment is like a soothing tonic that lifts the spirits in a way that only nature can.