Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Using data and evidence to direct our conservation work

Written by Leanne Tough - GIS and Projects Trainee for the Ribble River Trust

I joined Ribble Rivers Trust (RRT) as a trainee in November 2020 through the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership (PHLP). The PHLP have helped fund traineeships within their own team and within other partner organisations. My year long posting has so far seen me create interactive maps of projects that RRT have completed, to organising woodland creation in Colne. This variety of work and training has been the perfect start to my career.

Being a river conservation charity, RRT are very aware of the multitude of threats our watercourses face. Many have been channelised and modified so heavily that they fail national tests of river health. Other threats include, but are not limited to, pollution, in-river manmade obstacles (e.g. weirs) and invasive non-native species (e.g. Himalayan balsam). This presents lots of opportunities for improvement.

But which issues, and at which locations, should we work on first? Which ones would have the greatest benefits for the environment, wildlife and people?

Screenshot of the GIS system used

There is computer software (called a ‘Geographic Information System’) that allows us to map all aspects of the River Ribble catchment. Using a wide variety of map-based data sets, from landscape features to the distribution of species and issues that are impacting them, we have generated computer-based models to map priority locations that need our help. What this means is, we have combined lots of data to find locations where tackling these issues could provide the greatest benefits for the environment, wildlife and people.

Three data sets we have are: locations where watercourses have failed their health tests due to agricultural pollution, locations at risk of soil erosion, and levels of obesity, inactivity and associated illnesses within local populations. What could help to reduce pollution inputs into watercourses, reduce soil erosion, and increase the health and wellbeing of local communities? Planting trees and creating leaky dams are two examples. They help to slow the flow of water and filter out sediment and pollutants before they reach the river. They are also great physical, outdoor activities for volunteers from local communities to get involved in.

Three more data sets we hold are: distribution of fish species, locations of in-river obstacles preventing fish movement along rivers, and lengths of watercourses isolated from each other. We use these datasets to decide which priority obstacle to remove to reconnect the greatest amount of river habitat for fish.

Used correctly and in conjunction with local knowledge and expertise, mapped data is incredibly valuable to us. With it, we can help make the Ribble catchment healthier for all.

Many woodlands, wetlands and fish passes were created through a project called Ribble Life Together. You can see them all mapped, here: You can also check out our website for more information on the work RRT does:

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Walking Festival will 'highlight' wonderful Pendle Hill area

Written by The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership & Forest of Bowland AONB Sustainable Tourism Officer Hetty Byrne

One of the few positives to emerge over the last 18 months is seeing so many more people connect with nature and the outdoors during the Covid Lockdowns.  Many of us enjoyed our daily walks from home to local parks, urban green spaces and open countryside; This provided us with time and space to notice nature, the changing seasons and enjoy the simplicity of being outdoors and having more time to be present in those moments. 

As a parent of two youngsters of pre-school age and with no garden space in our town house, we certainly relished the time we spent outdoors during these times.  Our daily walks from home, while already familiar to us, gave us the opportunity to stop and notice so much more; We slowed right down, and all benefitted from it.  Our favourite walks in Clitheroe were a riverside circular to Brungerley Park and exploring Salthill Quarry Local Nature Reserve – what a gem, right on our doorstep!  My favourite part was my children's daily collection of seasonal leaves, feathers, pebbles or whatever caught their attention, which we'd leave as treasure to find on my brother's doorstep as we passed by each day.

As Lockdowns eased it got me thinking about how many people will have benefitted from these daily rituals but might not necessarily have the knowledge or insight about where else they can explore.  This led to the idea of organising a walking festival to highlight all the wonderful opportunities on offer in the Pendle Hill area, and also a chance to spread some of the visitor pressure from the same popular sites where people often flock.


Photo taken by Hetty Byrne during her Family lockdown walk at Brungerley, Clitheroe

From 18th to 26th September we're excited to present a 'new to walking festival' – Together for our Landmark - to further extend 'walking from home' and the connections made during Lockdown.  The guided walks will also be an opportunity for people to learn more about the natural and cultural heritage of the area.  We've got a varied programme from archaeology to herbal medicine, mindfulness to traditional boundaries and plenty for families to be involved, including buggy and Tramper-friendly walks.  The guided walks start from locations all around Pendle Hill including Nelson, Barrowford, Sabden, Downham and Spring Wood.  We've kept the walks to a maximum of 6 miles, but they include a variety of terrain, so we hope there is something for everyone!

The walks are free, but donations are welcome on the day, contributing to Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue and the Pendle Hill Fund.

For full details of the walks and information about how to book, please visit:

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Why you should take the time to explore our beautiful nearby meadows

Written by The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnerships Farming and Wildlife Officer Sarah Robinson.

In my role as the Farming and Wildlife Officer, I look after the Wild about Pendle project, which aims to reconnect people with nature and wildlife. Working with local farmers and volunteers we survey, restore and manage important habitats for wildlife across the Pendle Hill area, including species rich grassland and moorland. The Pendle Meadow Project was born as a result of working from home last spring during lock-down. Like the rest of the country, the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership team was confined to home from March last year. Despite the obvious worry about the pandemic, this allowed time to develop new projects, and for me, this new project has been the Pendle Meadows Project.


Image of Bell Sykes Coronation Meadows in Slaidburn

Having spent time pouring over maps, making use of the knowledge I have of farms and other grassland sites in the project area and talking with members of the Pendle Hill Farmer Network I facilitate, I came up with a short list of thirteen meadows which I was interested in exploring further. Once I had spoken to all the owners and we were allowed to resume our outdoor work in June last year, I was able to get the project started. The sites range from large agricultural meadows the size of seven football pitches down to the smallest, which is 3 metres square.

I surveyed all the sites for their traditional grasses and wildflowers and then over the course of August and September last year, added in a range of additional species with seed collected from existing meadows across the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. After waiting almost a year, I have just started to go back and resurvey the meadows, and it is fantastic to see the results. Yellow rattle, meadow foxtail and eyebright can be found flowering just the first year after seeding, whilst others such as red clover, knapweed, great burnet and rough hawkbit will take longer to establish.


Image taken by Sarah whilst carrying out her wild flower surveys 

As well as the additional wildflowers, the meadows are home to a wide variety of butterflies, moths, bees, grasshoppers and other insects, as well as small mammals such as bank voles. They are used as feeding sites by bats and summer visitors such as swifts and swallows. Meadows are a really important part our local biodiversity and support a large web of life, as well as being incredibly beautiful. Many of the sites in this project have footpaths running through them or are areas open to the public, and if you have a chance, now is a great time to visit before the hay is cut, take a look at Clarion House on Jinny Lane or Spring Wood in Whalley.

You can find more details on our website

Monday, August 9, 2021

Wildlife count a wonderful way to connect with nature


Written by Nichola Gill - Business Support Officer for the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership

For the past few weeks I have helped organise a series of events called The Spring Wood Big Wildlife Count, which is taking place over the course of the summer. The first in the series, Wild Flowers and Bees, was held on Saturday 5th June at Spring Wood, Whalley.

Meadows and Bees Survey at Spring Wood

Having only recently joined the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership team in February, I haven't had the opportunity to work from an office, meet with people face to face, or get as involved with projects as I perhaps could have done pre-covid. Given the restrictions, the majority of my work has been carried out at home to date. I've also joined over halfway through a well established project, as I am covering maternity leave until December, so it's obviously been a strange start to my new job. Now that we are finally able to get projects and activities up and running again, it was great to get outside and meet people in person at Spring Wood. This being said, I'm pretty sure my colleagues felt the same excitement that I did, as they have spent the last year only engaging with audiences online.

Alongside my colleagues Carol, Sarah and Alison, we joined 10 keen nature recorders, who helped us to identify and record the species living within this beautiful site. Some people used the iNaturalist app, which we are using as a database to collect our findings, whilst others used pen and paper. Common spotted orchid, red campion, germander speedwell, common mouse ear, cuckooflower and ragged robin were amongst some of the wild flowers logged. It was a fantastic event, and we had people of all ages and expertise, some being bee and wild flower experts, and others having no experience at all. The size of the meadow meant we could all safely socially distance and enjoy spending time with each other in nature.


Bumblebee on Red Campion

We have since held two more events, recording minibeasts on the 30th June, and then tree species on the 8th July. Spring Wood now has over 661 separate observations on the iNaturalist app, and we are hoping to build on this again, with two more events in the pipeline – looking at bats and fungi (dates to be confirmed).

In the meantime, why not download the iNaturalist app and record your findings at your own leisure, you could even take a trip to Spring Wood and help us build on our Big Wildlife Count.

Pease visit our website for more details, including a guide on how to use iNaturalist.

Screenshot of our findings on the iNaturalist App