Between November 2016 and March 2017 over 9,000 trees have been planted at four sites in the Ribble Catchment to help improve water quality, as part of the European Life Integrated Project, Natural Course.

Trees planted along Bushburn Brook in Billington
Native trees planted alongside Bushburn Brook near Billington

This has been thanks to the time and effort of willing volunteers from primary schools, colleges, local businesses and the amazing Ribble Rivers Trust volunteers.

The trees planted this winter on riverbanks near Bashall, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Ramsgreave and Billington will also help reduce bank erosion and diffuse pollution from surrounding farmland, slow the flow of water entering the watercourse to reduce the risk of flooding downstream, and mitigate climate change by shading the water, keeping it cooler, and locking up carbon in the growing native woodland.

Most people associate trees with clean air and wildlife habitats but trees are also vital for improving water quality in our rivers and streams. Trees not only provide vital nutrients and shade for invertebrates and spawning fish but they have been known to almost completely prevent pesticides and phosphates from reaching watercourses.

Laura Melling, Store Manager at Fat Face Clitheroe said, “My team thoroughly enjoyed our tree planting day in November. We feel it’s important to contribute and make a difference in our local community and doing something like this has a long term, positive impact on our local environment as well as supporting an important local initiative.”

Edisford Primary School teacher Ben Walker added, “Our Year 4 pupils loved tree planting – they were thrilled that the trees they were planting would be around for decades and have such a positive impact on the local environment. For many of them it was a totally new experience and they learnt so much about trees and river habitats.”

Natural Course is a collaborative project delivered by Environment Agency, United Utilities, Greater Manchester Combined Authorities, Natural England and The Rivers Trust.  To find out how you can volunteer with the Ribble Rivers Trust, visit ribbletrust.org.uk/volunteering.  To find out more about Natural Course or to sign up to volunteer, visit: www.naturalcourse.co.uk

The Ribble Rivers Trust (RRT) is a local environmental charity established in 1997 to protect and restore the rivers, streams and watercourses within the Ribble catchment and to raise public awareness of the value of our local rivers and streams. The Ribble catchment is the area of land that is drained by the River Ribble and its major tributaries; the Hodder, Calder and Darwen. It covers a varied landscape, from the rural hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the source of the River Ribble, to major urban areas of Lancashire including Blackburn, Burnley and Preston. For more information visit https://ribbletrust.org.uk