Illustration for farming and forestry nature recovery

Our ideas to address key challenge: Farming and Forestry, Nature Recovery, and Climate Change

What are we trying to achieve?

  1. We will champion farming led nature recovery, supporting agricultural transition and delivery of the multiple public goods and benefits identified in the 25 Year Environment Plan. Wherever possible this will be achieved through collaborative area planning initiatives that involves farmers, landowners, communities and businesses to balance sustainable, productive, and profitable land management choices to address and adapt, and recover from the threats facing farming, nature, climate and communities.
  2. We will deliver the ambition and vision of the nature recovery priorities identified in the Local Nature Recovery Strategy. This will be supported through the developing Lake District National Park Nature Recovery Delivery Prospectus.
  3. We will maintain, celebrate and strengthen traditional Lake District farming systems including the livestock, the food its produces, and the land management practices that support our natural and cultural heritage that are essential to the Lake District National Park Special Qualities, and sustain World Heritage Outstanding Universal Value, and through these systems contribute substantially to nature and climate recovery.
  4. We will support profitable farming, forestry and land management businesses, maintaining traditional land based skills and sustaining our agro-pastoral farming system. To support and encourage initiatives that ensure farming, forestry and land management remain or become profitable through diversifying their income, adding value to their products, collaboration, securing efficiency savings and identifying and establishing new markets.
  5. We will develop and grow the network of landscape scale nature recovery areas and delivery approaches that combine farming, forestry and land management choices to achieve nature recovery, and a broader range of multiple public goods and benefits. We will embrace nature recovery across the park, with improved connectivity between core areas for nature recovery through a range of initiatives including farming led delivery. This will support our ambition for the Lake District to be the richest and most connected part of England’s nature recovery network.
  6. Farming, forestry, land management working together to achieve net zero or negative carbon by reducing emissions, investing in our natural capital and increasing carbon storage by 2040. 2040 is the net zero date that the National Farmers Union (NFU) have committed to net zero for the farming sector.
  7. Farming, forestry, land management and nature will become more resilient to the impacts of climate change and help to reduce the impacts of climate change on people and landscape, for example through natural flood management opportunities and land management choices that would help nature resilience.

What is the challenge and why are we trying to address it?

The Lake District National Park faces the biggest change in half a century with the implementation of the Agriculture Act 2020 and the delivery of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. Both offer challenge and opportunity to embrace change, and ensuring the effective delivery of both are integral to achieving our ambitions for vibrant communities, prosperous economy, spectacular landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage, and a world class visitor experience in the Lake District.  Our priority is to achieve a recovery that will celebrate, sustain and enhance the Lake District National Park’s Vision and Special Qualities, and World Heritage attributes of Outstanding Universal Value. Our farming traditions, our natural environment and our climate are in crisis and our recovery from this shared crisis drive the priorities and objectives for the partnership.

The landscape character of the Lake District National Park and World Heritage Site has developed through a long history of agro-pastoralism and local industry interacting with the natural and physical environment of the area. Our future land management choices are critical to delivering the public goods and benefits set out in the Government's 25 Year Environment Plan. The Government's Agricultural transition plan 2021-2024, published in November 2020 sets a clear direction, with a move away from subsidies and to a new way to pay farmers and land managers to produce public goods, for example through nature friendly practices, and grants and other initiatives to help improve farm productivity and prosperity. This is our opportunity to work collaboratively to implement this in the Lake District, to maximise the benefits we can deliver for farming, nature and climate recovery, for example cleaner water, healthier soils, and greater resilience to floods and droughts.

The decisions partners, land owners, farmers and foresters make about how land is managed will make the greatest impact on achieving the Partnership’s shared ambitions for farming, nature and climate recovery. There is a strong, unifying connection between farming, forestry, nature and climate. Farming led nature recovery is at the heart of how the Lake District National Park Partnership’s collaborative working will support farmers and other land managers through the agricultural transition period to adapt their businesses for economic, environmental, social and cultural benefit. Farmer led nature recovery can work alongside and in combination with other existing and new nature recovery approaches that are active in the Lake District today. Some of these place restoration of natural processes as a primary driver for nature recovery. This range of approaches can be complementary in tackling the challenges of the nature and climate crises. The principles set out in the Lawton Review (2010) are to improve, expand, buffer, and connect core nature sites which we can do through both farmer led and nature led approaches.

Farming in the Lake District Post Common Agricultural Policy.

Farming in the Lake District Post Common Agricultural Policy.

Further information about the challenges and supporting evidence can be found in the Future of Farming and Forestry, Climate Change and Nature Recovery Supporting Paper. Our findings from the 2018 Lake District State of the Park Report  and Climate Change Adaptation Report provide further evidence for the development of this Plan.

  • Mixed wooland in Elterwater - Dave Willis / Cumbria Tourism

    Mixed wooland in Elterwater - Dave Willis / Cumbria Tourism

  • Tree planting in Hardknott Forest - John Hodgson

    Tree planting in Hardknott Forest - John Hodgson

  • Fell Foot Farm - Val Corbett

    Fell Foot Farm - Val Corbett

  • National Trust Burnthwaite Farm - John Hodgson

    National Trust Burnthwaite Farm - John Hodgson

  • Farmer Andrew Sutton at Bridge End Barn, Longsleddale - James O Davies / Historic England

    Farmer Andrew Sutton at Bridge End Barn, Longsleddale - James O Davies / Historic England

  • Farmer Keith Hodgson at repaired Arklid Barn, Nibthwaite - James O Davies / Historic England

    Farmer Keith Hodgson at repaired Arklid Barn, Nibthwaite - James O Davies / Historic England

  • Tractor in a traditional meadow - Andrea Meanwell

    Haybaling - Andrea Meanwell

  • A traditional barn building with thick stone walls - Andrea Meanwell

    A traditional barn building with thick stone walls - Andrea Meanwell

Our suggested approach

Lake District National Park (LDNP) land management facts:

  • The total area of the LDNP is 236,234ha
  • 66,252 ha of LDNP is Common Land (28% of LDNP total area)
  • 29,792ha of woodland and forestry (13% of the LDNP total area)
  • 152,777ha of land is registered agricultural land (65% of LDNP total area)
  • 130,740ha is in an agri-environment scheme (55% of LDNP total area)
  • 43,196ha of SSSIs (18.3% of LDNP total area), and 23% of those SSSIs are in favourable condition (SOTP 2018)

Our measures of success include:

  • 90% of Lake District National Park land in Environmental Land Management by 2028 delivering individual business’ and local area’s priorities (55% in 2020).
  • Nature recovery targets - to be developed through the Cumbria Local Nature Recovery Strategy pilot and linked to LDNP contribution to
  • National Parks England wildlife and nature recovery delivery plan.
  • 90% of SSSIs in favourable condition by 2040 (21.6% in 2018)
  • 81% of SSSIs in recovering condition by 2025, 100% of SSSIs in recovering condition by 2030, and 90% of SSSIs in favourable condition by 2040
  • Core areas of nature recovery will cover at least 10% of the National Park by 2025
  • We will agree our targets and actions to meet the Government’s 30% by 2030 commitment, as part of our Nature Recovery Delivery Prospectus, by the end of 2022
  • 75% of water bodies at or above Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Status by 2027 (37% in 2019)
  • At least 17% woodland cover by 2050 (13% in 2018)
  • Farm business net zero/net negative carbon by 2040
  • Number of (traditional) family farms maintained; Herdwick and other traditional breed flocks and herds maintained

Our ambition is to have a high percentage of the Lake District land in ambitious and successful schemes within the Agricultural Transition Plan, including Environmental Land Management (ELM) and Farming in Protected Landscapes. These schemes will deliver measurable and positive environmental benefits. The Cumbria Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) is critical to us having a better shared understanding of the condition of nature, and will establish the ambition for nature recovery in Cumbria, and the Lake District and provides an important evidence base that we can all use to highlight opportunities where farming led nature recovery can make the most difference. The State of the Park Report 2018 clearly sets out the breadth and scope of the challenge we face. We are developing the Lake District National Park Nature Recovery Delivery Prospectus to support delivery of the Cumbria LNRS ambition. The prospectus will establish the local ambition, evidence, and delivery plan for nature recovery in the Lake District.

The Partnership recognises that actions to aid the sustainability of farming and the recovery of nature and climate will require delivery by both the farming community and a range of other Partnership delivery across farming, common and forestry land in the Lake District, providing a significant opportunity to collaboratively deliver the objectives of the Plan.

Throughout the development of the Plan we have engaged through a range of mechanisms with farmers and farming groups, particularly through our Defra Environmental Land Management (ELM) tests and trials, with existing local initiatives, and through the development of a Heritage Horizons National Heritage Lottery Fund bid. In early 2021 a group of partners engaged with over 100 farmers in the LDNP through online meetings and surveys. This engagement has helped to shape the Plan.

There are many good examples of agri-environment schemes, landscape restoration, and catchment initiatives, which have positively contributed towards looking after this fantastic landscape and its natural and cultural assets. However, the State of the Park Report 2018 is clear that these examples have not been enough to halt and reverse the loss of wildlife throughout the landscape.  These positive examples need to become more widespread if we are to protect and restore precious habitats, biodiversity and soil quality, and to adapt to climate change across the Park. We need to secure and build on the gains and learning achieved through successful examples to help us tackle the nature, farming, and climate crises and in so doing, establish a sustainable future for the unique cultural and natural heritage of the Lake District.

The Plan sets out a strategy for the next five years for how we can take an integrated approach building on current best practice and making the most of new opportunities, for these priorities. We will achieve this through new approaches to farming led nature recovery combined with a range of other innovative and sustainable land management practices, projects and partners.

Key to protecting and enhancing the Lake District National Park’s Special Qualities and World Heritage attributes of Outstanding Universal Value is to ensure that:

  • Farming and forestry adapt to new challenges and opportunities and maintain the authenticity of traditional hill livestock farming systems.
  • Our habitats and species urgently recover. The Cumbria Local Nature Recovery Strategy and the Lake District National Park Nature.
  • Recovery Delivery Prospectus will be essential tools to help us collaboratively define the priorities for recovery.
  • Farming, forestry and nature, working together, reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions and store more carbon.
  • Farming, forestry and nature become more resilient, are in a stronger position to adapt to the impacts of Climate Change, and are actively working to mitigate the impacts of Climate Change, for example threats to soil and water quality, and an increasing risk of floods, droughts, and wildfire.

Wider Cumbria Partnerships

There are a number of other established partnerships that are essential to the further development and delivery of the ambitions set out in this plan. This plan does not try to duplicate their work, and the actions in this Plan are focussed on where we can add most value by working collaboratively.

Area Planning

Through early engagement we recognise and understand the role of local leaders for farming led nature recovery and climate adaptation. We have learned from Ullswater Community Interest Company how natural flood management projects, designed and created by a network of local famers, land owners, partners and community members, have empowered people through local decision making. They share knowledge and learning to support each other in their projects, such as river restoration and habitat creation, with land management practices that help restore nature that also improves soil and plant health. Within the Plan we refer to this type of community initiative as area planning. We would like feedback on this approach as a key delivery mechanism for the Plan, as part of the consultation.

Nature recovery initiatives

Approaching 10% of the area of the Lake District National Park currently encompasses a range of areas and sites being managed to deliver nature recovery and other public goods. These are led by a range of partners in the Lake District National Park Partnership and other land managers. These places act as core areas for nature recovery and provide employment, training, and recreation. Nature recovery and public goods delivery are predominantly driven by sustainable farming practices. These areas have built up a good evidence base to support decision making and monitoring that helps to inform options for delivering nature recovery and public goods. Examples include Wild Ennerdale, Wild Haweswater, Eycott Hill, Foulshaw Moss, Lowther Estate, and Restoring Hardknott Forest. These areas are represented in the Nature Recovery Delivery Plan as opportunities to retain, improve and expand core areas of nature recovery in the National Park. These areas and sites can complement farmer and community led initiatives such as the Ullswater Catchment Management Community Interest Company.

In addition to habitat restoration, a number of well-considered species recovery and reintroduction projects are underway across the park through initiatives such as the Back On Our Map (BOOM) Project. An enclosed scientific release of Euroasian Beaver in the National Park is trialling the reintroduction of this ecosystem engineer species and fits with the Government commitment to providing opportunities to reintroduce formerly native species, such as beavers, where the benefits for the environment, people and the economy are clear.

Funding our actions

The Lake District National Park Partnership will work collaboratively to build a framework to enable farm businesses to proactively adapt to the challenges in this partnership plan. Our aim collectively and individually is to deliver improved outcomes and resilience for our cultural landscapes, the natural environment, businesses and communities.

We need to identify funding sources and resource for many of the actions within this Plan. Those may be found within the collaborative partnership resources, but we also need to find additional and new sources of funding to achieve our ambitions.

Actions

Our actions are based on the principle of continuous improvement and designed to help address what we are seeking to achieve. Our actions will evolve throughout the Plan period as we need to be agile and respond to changing situations and changing knowledge. Please see the Future of farming, nature recovery and climate change supporting paper for more detail on each of the actions.

Our Asks

  1. That we collectively develop a mix of finance opportunities and support new and innovative market led approaches for farming and land management businesses and communities.
  2. That we work together to champion, promote incentives, and provide researched options to support traditional Lake District farming systems which sustain World Heritage Outstanding Universal Value, support profitable businesses, and deliver nature recovery, climate and other public benefits.

Our Tasks

  1. Develop and deliver a coordinated Partnership transition support programme starting in 2021 to enable business adaptation and take up of the options within the Government’s Agricultural Transition Plan 2021-2024, including access to integrated business and environmental advice for skills and knowledge development.
  2. Identify the priorities for farming led nature recovery that can be delivered through land management choices. Seeking opportunities to develop local nature recovery and landscape recovery scale schemes that are better connected for multiple public benefits, and as part of our green recovery. This will be supported through trusted and expert advice, informed and evidenced by the Cumbria Local Nature Recovery Strategy, the Cumbria Nature Recovery Network, and the LDNP Nature Recovery Delivery Prospectus. Farming led nature recovery will be complemented by and blended with existing and new approaches, and core areas for nature recovery.
  3. Support and encourage young people into farming, forestry and land management, to maintain traditional skills and develop new ones to accrue the knowledge necessary for the maintenance of our cultural landscape and delivery of a ‘public payment for public goods’ agenda.
  4. Develop and start to deliver a landscape scale nature recovery plan for LDNP informed and evidenced by the Cumbria Local Nature Recovery Strategy and the LDNP Nature Recovery Delivery Prospectus. This will include delivery plans for woodland creation and restoration, peatland restoration, restoring protected sites to favourable condition, as well as other key habitats and species, and a system to assess extent and condition of priority habitats within the Park.
  5. Assemble and promote a resource package to enable farmers and land managers to assess their carbon usage, and develop knowledge and skills to be able to take steps to reduce the contribution they make to greenhouse gas emissions emissions, and to offer solutions that benefits society by capturing carbon, and may provide additional farm income streams and increase productivity.
  6. If the bid is successful, deliver the development stage of the Heritage Horizons National Lottery Heritage Fund project ‘Secured for our children – Nature, World Heritage and Farming in the Lake District’.
  7. Develop and deliver the Lake District National Park Nature Recovery Delivery Prospectus, to support the ambitions of the Cumbria Local Nature Recovery Strategy and to help identify opportunities for both farming led nature recovery and core areas of nature recovery.
  8. The Partnership will champion and resource the recovery of priority habitats and species across the park as identified in the Nature Recovery Delivery Prospectus. Restored habitats will then require long-term protection and management to meet the targets and objectives in this plan. Both nature recovery planning and active habitat restoration will be underway by 2025. These could include montane habitats, lakes, rivers and tarns, peatlands bogs and mires, woodlands, trees and scrub, grasslands, meadows and coastal habitats. Species could include Red Squirrel, Curlew, High Brown Fritillary, Freshwater Pearl Mussel, and Alpine Catchfly.
  9. By 2025 we will actively be pursing restoration and reintroduction of key species as identified in the Nature Recovery Delivery Prospectus. These could include Black Grouse, Pine Marten, Water Vole, Corncrake, Golden and White Tailed Eagle.

Local Action

  1. Work with individual farms, farm clusters and community farming initiatives to increase understanding of options for nature and climate recovery, through the opportunities identified in the Local Nature Recovery Strategy and the Lake District National Park Nature Recovery Delivery Prospectus.
  2. Work with farmers and land managers to take up Agricultural Transition Plan schemes, including Environmental Land Management and Protected Landscapes schemes through the transition period 2021 – 2028.
  3. Secure relevant opportunities by 2022 for farming, forestry and land management businesses to access advice and funding that transforms businesses to remain or become profitable and resilient to economic shocks and climate change.
  4. Work in partnership with communities through our Area Planning approach to encourage and enable a network of community led land management initiatives that individually address the local qualities of each valley, and collectively enhance the Special Qualities of the Lake District and deliver nature recovery and climate resilience.
  5. As part of our farm business and land management advice we will develop support for farmers and land managers on climate adaptation. This could include advice on natural flood management, or how we can adapt to climate changes that may affect farm or forestry businesses and our natural or cultural heritage.
  6. The Partnership’s “Tree planting and woodland creation guidelines” are being used from 2022 to help everyone to get the right trees and woodlands in the right places for the right reasons and in the right way.
  7. Core areas of nature recovery will cover a minimum of 10% of the National Park by 2025, where natural processes are being restored at scale and nature can recover and thrive.

Research priorities

The research needs below were those identified as the initial priorities, through a partnership prioritisation process in early 2021, from a long list of farming, forestry, nature, and climate research proposals. The research needs will be subject to further development throughout the plan period in order to help us deliver the objectives of the plan.

  • Explore how Lake District farm system operations can reduce and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to achieve net zero and deliver adaptations to address climate change, and become more resilient themselves.
  • Develop a shared evidence base and an agreed set of management options that will support traditional Lake District farming practises including the livestock, hefting and commoning, with holistic grazing regime management that will enable delivery of public goods and nature recovery as part of a profitable and sustainable farm business.
  • How can different Lakeland farming systems deliver nature recovery in a cultural landscape, and financially thrive? Identifying options and good practice applicable to diverse and distinctive local circumstances.
  • Understanding future opportunities for farm diversification in the Lake District: develop market-led diversification options beyond public goods provision; review options available now and in future; demonstrate good practice case studies; develop self-assessment mechanism for farmers; advice and guidance mechanisms; tools for promotion and branding.

More information can be found in the research framework

Help shape the plan - our shared plan for the Lake District

Thank you for sharing your views

This consultation closed at midday Wednesday 23 June 2021, thank you to everyone who gave their views.

The Partnership are now analysing the responses and will update the Plan for adoption later in the year.

The other key challenges

This challenge does not operate in isolation, you may also be interested the four other key challenges: