Wild Ingleborough – Official Partnership Project launch
Wild Ingleborough is a landscape-scale ecological restoration initiative in the Yorkshire Dales National Park working to restore natural ecological processes for the benefit of nature, people and our climate. Working with neighboring farmers and communities, the Wild Ingleborough partnership brings together land managers, NGOs and academia, to inform policy and drive ambition for nature recovery across the UK uplands.
A partnership has recently formed between Natural England’s Ingleborough National Nature Reserve team, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, The University of Leeds, The United Bank of Carbon, The Woodland Trust and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), to develop a project to further the restoration of habitats at Ingleborough in North Yorkshire.
However, the landscape is ecologically degraded. The Yorkshire Dales National Park has the lowest tree cover of any UK National Park. Semi-natural woodland is very scarce covering less than 1% of the Dales and has been heavily modified by clearance, grazing and underplanting with non-native species. The last fragments of native woodland face immediate threats from Ash Dieback disease which is decimating remaining woodland cover. Intensification of agriculture, drainage and over grazing has damaged nationally-important blanket bogs and led to proliferation of species-poor pasture. Many species, such as red squirrel, water vole, black grouse, ring ouzel and adder, have declined in recent years and are now locally rare or absent. This degradation and collapse of biodiversity mirrors the situation experienced across much of the UK uplands.
The partnership aims to undertake landscape-scale restoration of habitats from the valley floor to the top of the mountain. This will aid nature’s recovery in this part of North Yorkshire by helping wildlife be more resilient in the face of climate change and other pressures.
Working with neighboring landowners and farmers, the partners will seek to connect together existing areas of nature reserve to form continuous patches of land managed in a way that allows wildlife to recover. Large-scale habitat restoration and the re-establishment of natural processes will benefit wildlife but also people, through carbon capture, flood reduction and improving both water quality and soil health.
Some areas will see woodland creation through tree planting, whilst others will see a reduction in grazing to permit the vegetation to naturally regenerate. Livestock, especially cattle, will be used to create a patchwork of different habitats and with time, a natural treeline will form on the upper slopes of the mountain.
I represent the Woodland Trust on the Steering group and it is fantastic to be involved with such an ambitious project. The current land under direct ownership from members of the partnership is 1,221ha (as of July 2021) however the core project area where we plan to engage with land managers and influence the land management of areas under private ownership is 15,000ha!
So far, we have provided the partnership with 30,000 cell grown trees that will be planted this coming winter in areas that have already had sheep grazing removed. I will also be working with the steering group and project team to apply for grant funding through EWCO and Nature For Climate to demonstrate how other landowners can plant trees and woodlands and allow natural processes to occur, whilst continuing to farm in a way that makes their business viable.
On Thursday 1st July, Alistair Maltby and myself had the pleasure of attending the official Wild Ingleborough Launch event on the most glorious sunny, Yorkshire day! The event was arranged to celebrate the progress we’ve seen in the partnership over the past year and to share the future plans with senior members of each organisation. There was an official unveiling of the Wild Ingleborough Logo by Jonathan Wild, Trustee of United Bank of Carbon, presentations from each member of the steering where I was able to share information about Snaizeholme (which is only 7km away from Ingleborough, we can hopefully work with landowners in the coming years to connect this site with Wild Ingleborough in the future) and a guided walk showing some areas from the recent WI land purchase and nationally important limestone pavement.
It’s safe to say, the day was a huge success!
If you’d like any more information on the project , please do get in touch!