Illustration for farming and forestry nature recovery

How we will monitor the condition of the Lake District

How we will monitor the condition of the Lake District

Monitoring is an essential element of resource management. Our Plan includes details of monitoring which will grow our understanding of the Lake District (what do we have now), the regular measurement of indicators to monitor its condition, and enable us to evaluate the progress towards meeting the ambition we have set in this Plan.

Developing our Monitoring Plan

Understanding the quantity of a resource and its quality allows effective management to sustain, improve and develop those aspects desired and to address, eliminate or suppress those which are not. It allows managers to recognise where demand is, and who or what supply, can support that need. Most importantly, monitoring also allows us to check our activity is effective and if not, indicates where we may need to change tactics to reach our desired result.

The State of the Park report is the main document which reports upon the Special Qualities (and where possible the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage status) of the English Lake District in response to the Lake District Partnership’s monitoring framework. The most recent and comprehensive version was published in 2018 through our collaborative efforts using secondary data gathered for a range of other purposes. The report was designed to summarise and present key findings for consideration to feed into this Management Plan for 2020 to 2025. This Management Plan is the product of the State of the Park report, amongst other drivers, and that we will use monitoring to measure how effectively we are achieving our objectives using a series of indicators. The State of the Park report also identified number of gaps and flaws in our monitoring; for example, the condition of the high fells, and there were no data on the habitat quantity and quality outside formally recognised protected areas. Recent work by the World Heritage Site Technical Advisory Group has identified priorities for monitoring and gaps in our information regarding the condition of some of our attributes of Outstanding Universal Value and this has input into the research framework.

Other directly related work has also identified other weaknesses in our monitoring and data collection. We will continue to develop our monitoring processes ready for the next round of State of Park reporting and Periodic Reporting to UNESCO. This will ensure we are communicating effectively to the various communities of interest as to how the English Lake District is addressing its strategic aims.

Graphic showing the relationship between the Lake District Management Plan, Monitoring & Research

The Relationship between the Lake District Management Plan, Monitoring and Research

Monitoring is made up of three elements:

  • Understanding the baseline – what do we have now
  • True monitoring – the regular measurement of the phenomenon
  • Evaluation – comparing the monitoring to the baseline to report on any changes

The evaluation phase is crucial as it allows us to check if our management regime is working. Generally we seek improvement in a phenomenon, sometimes we want it to remain static and other times it would be nice to see a decline. For example:

  • Improvement – the condition of biodiversity on the high fells
  • Static –  good water quality in our lakes
  • Decline – number of algal blooms on the lakes

When something is not how we want it, research is conducted, however small or short, to understand the problem and why things are going wrong.  In this way we can re-direct our management to resolve the challenge. Sometimes we do not understand why things are going wrong, thus longer more complex research is needed to unpick the issue and rectify the problems, hence the new research framework.

We will continue to monitor the Special Qualities and attributes of Outstanding Universal Value using indicators and standards.  We are in the process of identifying indicators and corresponding standards which could be used monitor progress on the key challenges.

Monitoring of the World Heritage Site inscription is in three parts:

  • Monitoring of the condition of the World Heritage Site (State of Conservation);
  • Monitoring of the implementation of the plan actions; and
  • The response to UNESCO nine recommendations at the time of our inscription in 2017 and other information as requested by UNESCO.

Monitoring of the condition of the World Heritage Site (State of Conservation) includes the protection of our Outstanding Universal Value. The protection of our Outstanding Universal Value is a mandatory requirement set out by UNESCO within the convention (UNESCO Convention of the Protection of World Natural and Cultural Heritage of 1972) and is the focus for monitoring of the World Heritage Site. UNESCO monitors the State of Conservation of each World Heritage Site through its Periodic Reporting process. Our periodic reporting process for the Lake District World Heritage Site starts in 2022, this will then be reviewed by UNESCO with feedback expected in 2024.

We have highlighted three priorities for monitoring of our attributes to sustain our Outstanding Universal Value in the short term due to current circumstances; these are:

  • Agro-pastoral system
  • Villas and designed landscapes
  • Landscape Conservation -The landscape is protected for its scenic and cultural value for the nation

We recognise the other attributes will need to be monitored in the long term and as part of the periodic review. We will seek to use similar monitoring mechanisms as described under the Research Framework.

Further information showing how UNESCO recommendations have been incorporated into the Plan summarise how this Plan will address the issues raised in the Technical Reviews from ICOMOS including where additional monitoring is required.

Monitoring the implementation of transformative actions is identified in our key indicators, and we continue to develop and finalise our Monitoring Plan to identify the indicators to monitor delivery, how the strategies are supporting the Vision, State of the Park, and other reporting.