Planting trees to improve water quality in North West England

9,000 trees will be planted this winter in North West England to help improve water quality, as part of the European Life Integrated Project, Natural Course.

This week (Wednesday 30th November) Ribble Rivers Trust will be taking 10 volunteers out to Bashall Brook to plant the first few trees of a new 2-hectare woodland, kick starting the tree planting season for Natural Course.

water quality streamMost people associate trees with clean air and wildlife habitats but trees are also vital for improving water quality in our rivers and streams.

More than half European waters are failing to meet a ‘good ecological status’ as many countries find methods to reaching these targets too expensive. The North West is leading a 10-year project that will look to find cost-effective solutions to water quality and will share its findings with the rest of the UK and Europe.

Tree planting by volunteers will form a major part of this project, as trees hold huge environmental benefits to the quality of our water.

Trees not only provide vital nutrients and shade for invertebrates and spawning fish but they have been known to completely prevent pesticides and phosphates from reaching watercourses by almost 100%.

volunteers water qualityThey also play a role in slowing the flow of the rivers, restoring soil structure and reducing flood risk.

Jack Spees, CEO at Ribble Rivers Trust, said “Planting trees is vital to the health of our rivers and we are very lucky to have such enthusiastic volunteers who are willing to go out at this time of year to help us out.
“Managed correctly, trees are a win-win situation for everyone. With the right trees we can reduce pollution from agriculture and also provide vital habitats for fish, birds and other wildlife.”

Natural Course is a collaborative project delivered by Environment Agency, United Utilities, Greater Manchester Combined Authorities, Natural England and The Rivers Trust.

To find out how you can volunteer with the Ribble Rivers Trust, visit