Community Catchments: Empowering People, Fighting Floods

Rivers across Lancashire and North Yorkshire are receiving a very welcome boost thanks to funding from the Defra £25m Natural Flood Management Fund, which is managed by the Environment Agency.

Ribble Rivers Trust, who will be managing the project alongside various partners including Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Heidelberg Materials, and Downham Estate, have been successful in their bid, and are set to receive £1.2 million of Defra funding, which will help to fight flooding, boost biodiversity and restore rivers across the Ribble catchment.

How Will You Spend the Defra Funding?

Local communities will be the key beneficiaries of the Defra funding

Whilst the Trust has a long history of delivering river restoration and renaturalisation projects, Community Catchments is an exciting new take on the traditional Catchment Based Approach to river restoration and natural flood management.

The project will focus on Wrea Green, Darwen, and Clitheroe; areas which have a long history of flooding but, for various reasons, are not able to benefit from traditional flood defences. So, the Trust will instead work alongside local communities to determine which natural flood management strategies will work best for each community, as well as encouraging specially created community groups to design their own solutions which will protect their homes, whilst promoting the recovery of wildlife and the restoration of the catchment’s rivers.

Jack Spees, CEO of Ribble Rivers Trust, expressed enthusiasm for the project, stating, “Owing to the nature of our catchment, many of our communities are not able to benefit from traditional flood defences. We have worked with them to develop Nature Based Solutions that will not only support reductions in flood risk but also improve the natural environment for those communities to enjoy. We are delighted and excited to have been awarded funding to make these Nature Based Solutions a reality alongside the communities.”

Will this work benefit Wildlife too?

The Community Catchments project will encompass a range of activities, including the creation of new wetlands, woodlands, leaky dams, new in river habitat, and peat restoration which will all help to slow water flow and enhance habitat diversity. Leveraging their very own data and evidence driven bespoke prioritization tool, Ribble Rivers Trust will identify and implement interventions where they will deliver the greatest benefit, guided by a commitment to sustainable river management.

Our Defra funding will allow us to work alongside communities, helping them deliver the changes that they need.

Of course, this action will also benefit the wildlife that rely on healthy rivers for survival, including elusive river species such as the European eel, Atlantic salmon, brown trout, and European smelt.

This initiative underscores Ribble Rivers Trust’s dedication to safeguarding communities and enhancing the ecological health of the Ribble catchment. By harnessing the collective expertise of stakeholders and engaging local residents, the Community Catchments project aims to foster resilience in the face of flooding while nurturing vibrant, biodiverse river ecosystems.

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