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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More information can be found in the research framework
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.
This challenge does not operate in isolation, you may also be interested the four other key challenges: