A local rivers charity has secured £1.6 million to raise awareness of the plight of our rivers and restore them for the benefit of our wildlife and communities.
The Ribble Rivers Trust landed the funds - which were granted from the National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) - and has been shaping their £3.2 million project, which will now be delivered until 2020.
Entitled ‘Ribble Life Together’, this programme of physical improvement projects and activities will span the entire Ribble Catchment, from the source of the Ribble in the Yorkshire Dales, down to the estuary at Lytham, taking in the rivers Calder, Hodder, and Darwen.
"The project involves planting thirty new riparian woodlands and constructing 15 new wetlands at priority areas to help reduce pollution, increase biodiversity, provide natural flood risk management, and reduce climate change impacts," said Jack Spees, Chief Executive of Ribble Rivers Trust.
"Hopefully this will create a lasting legacy for the catchment and the communities that live and work here.”
Additionally, 14 new fish passes will also be installed on weirs that currently prevent the natural migration of fish, while scientific monitoring will determine how much the river environment improves as a result of these interventions.
According to the Environment Agency, only 21% of the Ribble Catchment’s rivers currently achieve a good ecological standard, with the remainder suffering from urban and industrial pollution, agricultural impacts, fragmented habitat, and mistreatment by the general public.
“This is a wonderfully ambitious project, which will have a significant impact on the entirety of the Ribble Catchment," said Nathan Lee, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the North West. "Ribble Life Together will inspire the local community and drive positive change."
A better relationship between communities and their rivers is key, with people invited to get involved in the project in a variety of ways, from attending volunteer events and conservation training workshops, to geocaching competitions, guided river walks, augmented reality videos, and oral history.
Schools will also be offered educational visits that will help children learn about the importance of healthy rivers and the wildlife that lives within them, and encourage them to get into the habit of caring for the environment from an early age.
Head to www.ribblelifetogether.org to access a hub of information for people wanting to know more about the project and their local rivers in general, while the grant will be celebrated at a launch day at Brockholes on 7th July, which is open to everyone.