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Long Preston Wetlands: Adrian Shepherd, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Long Preston Wetlands: Adrian Shepherd, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

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  • The floodplain has a long history of drainage and flood protection, dating back at least 200 years: ‘ Backcut’ drain on eastern floodplain dates from around 1815, was converted to a covered culvert in about 1860, and has one outfall into the Ribble downstream of Cow Bridge. Ings Drainage Board Western floodplain drains through multiple outlets directly into the Ribble Ribble flood embankments raised around 1860 Over last 30 years or so the effectiveness of the land drainage on the floodplain has gradually declined due to a general lack of maintenance of the infrastructure
  • The BAP is available online from the Craven District Council website, or can been picked up at your local library. The prioirty habitats listed are all UKBAP habitats, so the Long Preston Deeps project will be helping achieve national targets to halt the loss of Biodiversity by 2010. 2 HLS agreements are already starting to deliver work on the ground, leading to roughly 36 ha wet grassland restoration for breeding waders, and 15 ha restoration of 'fen'.
  • 95% of project area
  • controlling rush cover by topping rushes and grazing with cattle creating a variety of vegetation heights to provide nesting habitat for different waders.
  • The landscape determines human use. Wetland began as post-glacial lake – rich resource for human populations 10,000 years ago – parallels at Star Carr. Lake dried up, river found many channels, peat formed - will tell important story of natural environment and human activity over time. Project if we can get funding to take cores, date and examine it because peat contains remains of plant material, pollen and some invertebrates, is suitable fro radiocarbon dating and preserves organic objects such as fish traps and brushwood trackways – very unusual conditions.
  • Little known about activity pre enclosure in late c18th on floodplain itself but ridge and furrow with S profile at Rathmell is medieval – crops grown on ridges where drier and oxen used to pull plough turn at end of the pass and hence create the curve. Mill race crossing under the road. We asked the North Craven Historic Research Group top help us out and I’m very grateful to them for all their hard work- started a survey of the area in 2009 to map and record new sites – old settlement at Wigglesworth from C11th. Pre-enclosure field boundaries still echoed in modern field pattern. Most settlement and other fixed activities on higher drier ground.
  • Enclosure changed the appearance of the wetlands – desire to improve bad land at end of C18th = change in attitude – brake to progress rather than useful resource. 1799 act of Parliament for drainage to enable farming and creation of fields in areas where apparently none before. The Cut dug 1815 to drain and embankments dug to keep flood water out – so even the floodbanks here are historic features over 200 years old.
  • Challenge now is how we bring the wetland back without damaging these historic features which make up an important landscape, why I am on the project steering group. Good news – bridge over Wigglesworth beck about to be repaired under HLS. Expensive for landowner on his own but important for ease of access and visible part of the historic landscape. This bridge important because the beck straightened – maybe at time of enclosure – and looks as though built to allow access for farm carts over the beck into the newly-drained fields beyond – see previous slide – can just see the track either side of the beck.

Transcript

  • 1. Today’s themes• Project Introduction and key aims• Floodplain – why is it important?• Grant schemes for farmers• Achievements – habitat improvement, bird surveys, historic research, improved appropriate access, raised awareness• Business support and involvement• River Restoration Plan – NE and EA• The future
  • 2. IntroductionThe Long Preston Wet Grassland Projectstarted in 2004 as a partnership between: – RSPB – Natural England – Environment Agency – Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust – Local farmers – North Yorkshire County Council – Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
  • 3. What makes the area special?• It is distinctive and unique• Large areas of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)• It already supports important bird populations• It has a rich archaeological record• It is prominent in the landscape
  • 4. Aims of the project5 main aims including:• Achieve wet grassland recovery for floodplain wildlife• Work with farmers to access grant aid for favourable management• Develop sustainable opportunities for local businesses• Promote the floodplain’s wildlife to local people and visitors• Monitor birds, plants and habitat quality
  • 5. Our shared visionWithin 10 - 20 years the area will:• Be a mosaic of grassland / wetland habitats• Be a functioning, working landscape with farming at its heart• Benefit / sustain local communities• Provide an education resource for schools & management demonstration site for farmers• Provide an opportunity for people to experience a wetland landscape
  • 6. 200 years of drainage & flood protection• c.1815 ‘backcut’ drain on • Ribble flood embankments eastern floodplain raised c.1860• Western floodplain drains • Effectiveness has gradually through multiple outlets declined due to lack of directly into the Ribble maintenance
  • 7. The restoration of targeted floodplain areas towet grassland and other wetland featuresrequires: • Controlled water level management during certain ‘critical’ periods of the year • Creation of shallow scrapes and foot drains • Management of the ground cover by appropriate livestock grazing and/or mechanical cutting
  • 8. The Long Preston floodplain offers opportunities for wet grassland restoration and re-creationat a local scale at a large scale
  • 9. Benefits to flood risk management• The floodplain covers 5km2• Annual rainfall of 1185mm• Floodplain naturally helps to delay peak flows downstream• Long history of land drainage from medieval times• Regular flooding from Dec to March (and longer)
  • 10. Benefits to biodiversity• The project is a key part of Craven’s Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP)• Helps to restore / create 4 of 13 priority habitats highlighted in the BAP – Farmland and Grassland (floodplain grazing marsh) – Rivers and Streams – Fen – Hedgerow• The project also enhances the area for several UK BAP Priority species: Curlew, Lapwing, Yellow wagtail, Tree sparrow• It also benefits numerous other bird species
  • 11. Environmental Stewardship•Provides funding to farmers & land managers for environmental management.• Around 70% of farm land in England is currently in anEnvironmental Stewardship Scheme.• The annual value of payments in England is £392 m• 3 elements: Entry Level/Upland Entry Level/Higher Level
  • 12. Higher Level Stewardship• Significant environmental benefits involving more complex management• Competitive scheme – aimed at high priority areas & habitats• Includes capital work paymentsHabitats Capital WorksWet grassland restoration Stone wall restorationRestoration of rough grazing for birds Scrape creationHay meadow restoration Water level controlsFen restoration Historic bridge restoration
  • 13. Restoration of Wet GrasslandManagement• Lighter grazing through bird nesting season• Cattle grazing to provide a more varied sward height• No fertiliser, reduces fertility & competitive grasses, creates a more diverse, semi-natural sward• Rush controlCapital works• Water level management plan• Water level control structures• Scrape creation
  • 14. HLS Management Plan
  • 15. Scheme Uptake97% of the projectarea is in anEnvironmentalStewardship scheme8 Higher LevelStewardship schemesin the project areacover 170 hectares(420 acres)
  • 16. Installing sluices to control water levels
  • 17. Creating scrapes and foot drains to provide feedinghabitat for breeding wading birds
  • 18. Controlling rush cover bytopping rushes and grazingwith cattle
  • 19. Farmer demonstration visits
  • 20. 600 bales cut on one farm in September 2010Rush cutting –benefits to wadingbirds and the farmbusiness.
  • 21. Breeding birddistributionfrom surveysin 2003 - 2008
  • 22. Breeding wading birds 1• In 2010 the Long Preston floodplain was included (for the first time) in a national Breeding Waders Of Wet Meadow survey, co-ordinated by the RSPB, BTO and Natural England.• This national survey has been repeated on a series of sites in1982, 1995, 2002 and now 2010). It gives a valuable insight into patterns of breeding wading birds in the UK and helps assess effectiveness of agri-environment scheme measures.
  • 23. Breeding wading birds 2• The Long Preston results are impressive with over 80 pairs of wading birds of conservation concern breeding on the floodplain• This clearly identifies the project area as a regionally important site for breeding wading birds, especially in a river floodplain location.• In England there are now only a handful of sites (mainly nature reserves) south of a line drawn between the Humber and the Dee, that support all four species of breeding wading bird of conservation concern in the numbers found at Long Preston.
  • 24. Wintering waterfowl counts Peak countsPintail 300 Wigeon 1013Teal 288 Lapwing 761
  • 25. Project Phase 2 2008-11– Continued to promote wet grassland creation– Developed other objectives: • research history • promote the floodplain’s wildlife to local people and visitors • develop sustainable opportunities for local businesses
  • 26. Historic activity on thewetlands Linda Smith Rural Archaeologist North Yorkshire County Council
  • 27. Farming before enclosure
  • 28. Effects of enclosure
  • 29. Hall Moss and Ings
  • 30. LP DEEPS, South. LIDAR
  • 31. Promoting the site tolocal people and visitors• Sustainability –use of a resource without a negative impact on it for the future• Enable people to learn and enjoy• Ensure people respect the place – the land, the features and the wildlife• Retain the wild and quiet qualities• Good example of successful wetland management
  • 32. Local school group visits
  • 33. Guided walks for groups Craven Conservation Group Yorkshire Dales Society Long Preston Heritage Gp
  • 34. MSc Sustainable Tourism 2009-11
  • 35. Imperial College MSc Hydrology
  • 36. RSPBRSPBnationalwetlandtraining
  • 37. General public accessBarriers• Limited and poor access• Ribble Way• Poor car parking• Lack of information• No facilities
  • 38. • Improve quality of physical access
  • 39. Bramble Signs
  • 40. Information –Newsletters, leaflets, panels, and website Background heritage research : David Johnson Creative Interpretation and design : Cath Blakey and The Fuse
  • 41. Long Preston Deeps (SSSI) Need for a River Restoration Plan•Up to 2010 this largely riverine SSSI was in unfavourable condition•River & floodplain at Long Preston Deeps undergone considerablemodification over time•Gross changes to physical form and function mean flora & faunaaffected across the entire site•A degraded system - displaying few of the functional geomorphologicaland ecological features expected under more natural conditions
  • 42. A Degraded System •Extensive flood banks confine all but the more extreme flows to the main channel and immediate bank area. •Poor river –floodplain connection •Non-functional floodplain •Unstable upper reach •Major bank stability problems •Sub-optimal fishery •Severely altered vegetation
  • 43. Implementing Long Preston Deeps River Restoration Plan•high-level and aspirational,•proposes actions to recreate a more dynamic system•aspiring to optimise channel and floodplain form & function viaassisted natural recovery•EA & NE recognise importance of future collaboration with landmanagers, farmers, the local community, angling clubs, shootinggroups, voluntary groups and individual citizens.
  • 44. Impact of Flood Banks Flood banks holding waters on floodplain Recent breach of flood bank
  • 45. Delivering Long Preston Deeps River Restoration Plan •Engagement for the Plan began in early summer 2010 •Site survey followed with development of draft Plan up to October 2010 •Stakeholder events and meetings held in October and November 2010 •Draft Plan significantly revised and finalised in December 2010 •Plan now means the status has changed to unfavourable recovering condition http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/regions/yorkshire_and_
  • 46. The future 2011 ...• Develop more links to businesses – develop ‘brand’ for the area• Develop web site, training for wildlife tourism• Support farms with water management• River Ribble Restoration Plan -Environment Agency / Natural England