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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Long Preston floodplain offers opportunities for wet grassland restoration and re-creationat a local scale at a large scale
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)
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
Historic activity on thewetlands Linda Smith Rural Archaeologist North Yorkshire County Council
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
Information –Newsletters, leaflets, panels, and website Background heritage research : David Johnson Creative Interpretation and design : Cath Blakey and The Fuse
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
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
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.
Impact of Flood Banks Flood banks holding waters on floodplain Recent breach of flood bank
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_
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