Wetlands are a priority habitat in the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan and can support over one hundred priority species. However due to urban development and changes in farming practise the amount of wetland has significantly reduced, with 80% of the remaining wetlands in a poor or very poor condition. This lack of habitat has had a devastating impact on the species that rely on wetlands leaving many endangered.
The Ribble Life Together project will enable us to restore and create new wetlands which will either permanently or periodically wet in order to reduce pressures on the catchment’s streams and rivers. Ponds, scrapes and water meadows are all important to rivers, as are upland peat bogs (blanket bogs) and bunds within ditches.
Each type of wetland has the potential to slow water run off rates and reduce the speed at which run-off enters streams and rivers as well as mitigating diffuse pollution by trapping and retaining sediment and nutrients.
The targeting and prioritisation has proved more challenging for wetlands than it has for woodlands and fish passage works and there are two main approaches that can be taken; the restoration and improvement of existing degraded wetlands and the creation of new wetlands.
When restoring and improving degraded wetlands there are again two main directions to follow; restoring and improving upland peat bogs and the removal of flood banks to reconnect rivers with their flood plains. If focusing on the creation of new wetlands we must look at suitable locations for wetlands and then look at the area they could potentially benefit, this was done using the extensive local knowledge of the Ribble Life Together Partnership.