There are four different factors we look at to decide how healthy a river is; water quality, water quantity, habitat health, and habitat connectivity. If there are any problems affecting these four factors we can work to resolve them, and make our rivers healthier.
To understand what problems our rivers are facing we carry out surveys of rivers, fish, river insects, habitats, and water quality. By collecting this information we can look at the causes of problems. Some of the data we collect can be inputted into computer programmes such as Geographical Information System (GIS), which helps us to decide which areas need our help, and what activities would be the most beneficial for rivers, wildlife, and people.
Sometimes we can identify a single problem such as a weir or single pollution source, but other times the problems might be more complex. Similarly the solution to the problem may be simple, but other times it may require a huge programme of work.
The solutions vary from physical changes to the river or surrounding landscape like peat moorland restoration, tree planting, wetland creation, and weir removals, or some problems may be solved by encouraging people in the area to change their behaviour.
A key part of improving a rivers health is that people enjoy and value rivers. This makes them more aware of the challenges rivers face, and what they can do at home (or out volunteering with us) to improve rivers and our wider environment. This is why engagement and education are key activities for us here at Ribble Rivers Trust.
A huge portion of the land in our catchment is dedicated to agriculture, and we're proud to say we have good working relationships with our farmers and landowners. Our farm advisers offer help and advice on how best to manage the farm for a successful business and healthy habitats.
Planting trees and creating woodlands is one of our key activities. Trees do so much for people and our planet; they help reduce flood risk, filter our air and water, lock up carbon, provide homes for wildlife, and so much more. This is why every year we plant tens of thousands of trees across our catchment.
One of our key activities is to work with young people and members of the public. Our work has been inspiring people from communities across the catchment to learn more about their environment, and how they can protect it.
There are many barriers such as dams and weirs in our catchment, and these are blocking the movement of fish up and down our rivers. By restoring our rivers to a more natural state we can ensure not only the movement of fish, but the insects, birds, and mammals associated with them.
Wetlands are a key habitat associated with rivers, but this type of habitats is becoming steadily rarer. Our work to restore and create habitats not only improves our river health, but also provides habitats for insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
We work hard to enable and encourage people to visit their local rivers, spend time close to nature and water, and immerse themselves in the outdoors. Spending time outside isn't just good for the body and soul, it means we take ownership and feel responsible for our environment, and so are more inclined to take care of what we have.
Almost all of our work is carried out on private land, and we use specialist modelling and tools to decide where to work. This enables us to work on the areas of farmland areas which will provide the most benefit for rivers and other habitats, as well as the human and animal residents.
Ribble Trust are passionate about science, data, and evidence. It underpins all of our work. From mapping our sites and planning physical improvements, to using our bespoke computer modelling and GIS systems to plan our future work, everything we do is backed up by science and data. This helps us to ensure that our work will have the best possible positive outcomes, and that the solutions we plan are the most appropriate options.
Once a project has ben completed, our work is by no means finished. To make sure that the projects have been a success we carry out a range of monitoring and evaluation activities. These range from fish tagging and tracking which ensures that fish friendly, to simple surveys sent to people who attend our events. All of this helps to prove that our activities are effective and are good value for money for our funders, plus it feeds back into our data and evidence base.