Ribble Life Together was an ambitious, flagship project of the Ribble Catchment Partnership, which is made up of environmental organisations, businesses, local authorities and interest groups, all with a vested interest in improving the catchment’s water environment for the benefit of people and wildlife.
After a two-year development phase, in 2017 Ribble Life Together was awarded £1.6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable its delivery until 2020, together with a further £1.6 million of match funding from partners and external sources. The delivery phase of the programme ran from April 2017 until March 2023.
Our Vision: Working collaboratively, we’ll deliver a substantially healthier Ribble river system by 2020 for the benefit of people and wildlife. We’ll celebrate the heritage of the river, improve access and use the river to inspire and educate. Through practical environmental action, based on science, we’ll leave a positive legacy for future generations.
According to the Environment Agency, only 21% of the Ribble Catchment’s rivers currently achieve a good ecological standard. The remainder suffer from urban and industrial pollution, agricultural impacts, fragmented habitat and mistreatment by the general public – predominantly littering. Floods and droughts associated with climate change and rising temperatures have exacerbated the problem in recent years, putting significant stress on river habitats and endangering certain species.
Ribble Life Together worked hard to address some of the issues that prevent our rivers being better connected and better quality. 30 new riparian woodlands were planted, 15 wetland projects were completed, ranging from wildlife ponds to peat resoration. 14 new fish passes are also being installed on weirs that currently prevent the natural migration of fish. Scientific monitoring will determine how much the river environment improves as a result of these interventions. All of these projects were achieved in priority areas to help reduce pollution, increase biodiversity, provide natural flood risk management and reduce climate change impacts, creating a lasting legacy for the catchment and the communities that live and work here.
At the heart of the project was a determination to establish a better relationship between communities and their rivers by developing people’s understanding and appreciation of river environments. People were 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 were offered educational visits that will help children learn about the importance of healthy rivers and the wildlife that lives within them, encouraging them to get into the habit of caring for the environment from an early age. RLT worked with a staggering 64 schools, engaging 4364 students.
The physical improvement projects and activities being delivered as part of the Ribble Life Together spanned 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.
A new website was been set up for the project – ribblelifetogether.org.
Project partners and funders: