Long Preston Floodplain Project

Enhancing the important wet grassland habitats of the Ribble floodplain between Long Preston and Settle.

The Long Preston Floodplain Project (LPFP) was first started in 2004 to enhance the important wet grassland habitats of the Ribble floodplain between Long Preston and Settle – an area known as the Long Preston Deeps. We're now delivering vital small-scale schemes that connect the mosaic of habitats in the area, as well as helping people to discover and protect this largely undiscovered landscape. 

Long Preston floodplain
The floodplain between Long Preston and Settle - a haven for birds and other wildlife

In 2021 a grant from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund is helping us to build on the success of our longstanding partnership work in the Long Preston Floodplain area. A grant of  £244,700 helped launch a new phase of the proejct, which aims to: 

  • Create and restore 10 hectares of habitat, focusing on wildlife corridors that provide vital nature-based solutions. This includes 16 separate schemes that will regenerate riparian woodlands and hedgerows, protect wetlands and tributaries, and provide natural flood management.
  • Plant landscape trees to combat ash dieback
  • Connect 8,000 people to nature in the area, including under-represented communities, through improved access and interpretation, volunteering and events.
  • Engage 60 farmers in the project, highlighting how sustainable agriculture can contribute to effective environmental management.

The Long Preston floodplain area

Lying between the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland, the Long Preston floodplain area is unique – important for farming, rich in history and a priority habitat for wading birds and rare flora. Part of the floodplain is a nationally important Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because the flat valley bottom and river features support unique wetland flora and fauna.

Land in the project area is owned and managed by local farmers, who play a vital role. Around 90% of the Long Preston Floodplain Project area is managed under Natural England’s Environmental Stewardship Scheme which provides payments to farmers for restoring the wetland and other features in the floodplain. 

Watch: River Naturalisation and Flood plain restoration at Long Preston Deeps - a film by the Environment Agency.



Managing the wetland environment is essential to help create the ideal conditions for bird populations. We work with farmers to show how effective wetland management can provide financial returns as well as benefitting local wildlife. We employ an advisor through funding from the Environment Agency and Natural England who has been assisting farmers to access agri-environment grant schemes.

In 2017 the Ribblesdale Farmers Group was set up to make the farmed landscape better for wildlife and farming, as well as helping to prevent flooding and improving water quality. The Group enables farmers and other organisations to collaborate to bring about environmental benefits that fit with land management objectives. Read the news article.

Wetland wildlife

The Long Preston Floodplain Project area is of national importance for nature conservation and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for breeding wading bird populations and aquatic plants.

The floodplain is important for several species of breeding wading bird of conservation concern. These birds come to the floodplain in spring every year to nest and raise their young and leave when their chicks have fledged. It is known that there are at least sixty pairs of breeding wading birds on the floodplain including Snipe, Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatcher. Hear the sounds of the Long Preston Floodplain on the Long Preston Floodplain Project website  

Curlew in flight - by Dickon Siddall
Curlew in flight - photo thanks to Dickon Siddall

The area is also important for winter wildfowl such as teal, widgeon, shoveler and pintail populations. The wetlands and the river provide them with ideal feeding grounds and sites for roosting. 
A total of 128 species were recorded in the Long Preston area in 2019 - read the Long Preston Bird Report 2019.  

Find out more

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