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: