5 ways that data and evidence shapes projects

Over the last 21 years Ribble Rivers Trust, together with our partners, supporters, and volunteers, have carried out a wide range of habitat improvements.

Did you know that all of this work is carefully planned over months and, in some cases, years?

Activities such as woodland creation, fish passes, and wetland creation is great for improving the quality of your rivers, but to maximise the benefit a huge amount of effort goes into the research and planning phase of these projects. Data and evidence is the information that forms the basis for all the Trust’s project planning.

1. Data and evidence can be used to give a basic idea of which places in the Ribble catchment area have the potential for improvements. The sites that look promising can then be visited and surveyed to look at their suitability.

It would be great to work on habitat improvement projects everywhere and anywhere, but this isn’t always the best way to reap the environmental rewards. Using data to plan habitat improvement sites means that the right work is carried out in the right place.

2. By using data and evidence on flooding, water quality, rainfall, land usage, and even animal populations, it is possible to see which areas would benefit the most from habitat improvements.

Some areas of the catchment could be easily planted with trees, but it might not provide very much benefit. Careful planning means that projects can provide the maximum benefit to rivers, water quality, wildlife, flood risk reduction, and the reduction in the effects of climate change.

3. Using data and evidence helps Ribble Rivers Trust to plan habitat schemes and capital works in great detail, and then use computer modelling to modify plans to produce even greater environmental benefits.

Fish passes are a great example of this. There are over 1000 man-made barriers in the Ribble catchment area that prevent fish movement and migration. Location-based data and evidence can decide which of those barriers to address on first, in order to reconnect the greatest lengths of rivers for fish.


4. All sorts of data and evidence can be used in project planning. As well as looking at improvements for rivers and wildlife, using healthcare data to determine the locations of environmental projects could also benefit health and wellbeing.

One of the aims of the Lancashire Woodland Connect campaign is to try and improve people’s mental and physical health by creating woodlands for people to visit for exercise and recreation. Various healthcare factors have been considered, making it possible to target the areas where people are more likely to have poorer health, and less access to outdoor green space.

5. Data and evidence is also used to monitor the success of habitat schemes. By comparing newly collected data with older data, it is possible to see how well habitat schemes are developing and prove that they’re providing the predicted benefits.

This is extremely important, as monitoring and evaluating work then provides more data and evidence. As well as showing funders and supporters that the activities they’ve partially paid for has been worthwhile, the data and evidence collected will also shape future projects!

Take a look at this interactive map to see what the current state of health and wellbeing is in your area: ribbletrust.maps.arcgis.com
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