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Upper Wharfedale Trees, rivers and moorland

C1 – Priority habitats

Support farmers and landowners to restore and manage landscape-scale mosaics of priority habitats so that:

a) all the blanket bog in nationally and internationally important wildlife sites is ‘recovering’, and 50% of the other land in such sites has reached ‘favourable’ condition by 2024.  ‘Recovering’ – means the site is being managed in a way that should – over time – lead to it reaching ‘Favourable’ condition. ‘Favourable’ – means the habitats and features are in a healthy state and being managed appropriately.

b) 30% of the priority habitats outside nationally-designated wildlife sites are in good condition by 2024; ‘Priority habitats’ – listed in the Yorkshire Dales Biodiversity Action Plan (2011). ‘Good condition’ – means the habitat has been assessed using either FEP or BEHTA Survey methodology and has ‘passed’ every criteria.

c) at least one landscape-scale ‘nature recovery area’ has been created by 2021.


How are we doing on this objective

Progress: (a) 95% of the blanket bog in nationally and internationally important wildlife sites is ‘recovering’. 42% of the other habitats in such sites has reached ‘favourable’ condition. Both figures are unchanged since 2018.

(b) The 2021 ‘Trends and Status’ report shows 22% of priority habitats outside nationally-designated wildlife sites are in good condition, unchanged from 2016.

(c) Led by the North Pennines AONB partnership, on behalf of a range of local partners, the ‘Tees-Swale: naturally connected’ programme secured £5.7m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The 5-year, £8.5m programme of support for high nature value farming, habitat restoration and public engagement was officially launched in February 2021, and will support restoration of priority habitats including hay meadows, native woodland and wetlands.

Press Releases & related articles:

16 August 2021 – Kicking to see what’s alive: wildlife surveys carried out

30 March 2021 – Nature recovery work ‘accelerating’

7 September 2020 – ‘Rewilding’

23 July 2020 – National Lottery funds Tees Swale Project


Rationale: The 57,000 ha of nationally and internationally designated wildlife sites form the heart of the most coherent network of semi-natural habitats left in England.  Only 30% are currently in favourable condition, although almost all are being actively managed or restored.  The biggest challenge relates to the 24,000 ha of internationally-designated blanket bog, which – once degraded – takes many years to reach favourable condition again (see objective D3).  There are over 36,000 ha of nationally-important habitats outside of designated sites.  Only 22% of these are in good condition.  The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan includes a commitment to develop a ‘Nature Recovery Network’ to link existing protected sites, and creating up to 25 new ‘nature recovery areas’.

Lead partners:   a) and b) Natural England; c) Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

Supporting partners:  Yorkshire Peat Partnership; Environment Agency; Forestry Commission; Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust; National Trust;

Further information:    YDNPA – Habitats; Tees-Swale: Naturally Connected

Cost over 5 years:  £2,500,000 [part c) only]

Funding shortfall:  £2,500,000 [part c) only]

Related objectives:   C2; D3; D5; D6; D7

Ecosystem services:  Biodiversity; Food provision; Pollination; Climate regulation; Water Flow; Soil quality; Regulating pests; Sense of place and inspiration; Recreation; Genetic diversity; Water quality; Soil erosion

Trade-offs:  Restoring and managing priority habitats to achieve favourable condition will usually restrict the level of production that might otherwise be achieved from farming. e.g.  Counter-intuitively, this can often improve the ‘profitability’ of the farming because, a) the farmer is rewarded through agri-environment scheme payments; b) reducing the intensity of production leads to cuts in costs that are greater than the cuts in income.

Baseline: a) 20,459 ha (95%) of blanket bog is ‘favourable’ or ‘unfavourable recovering at March 2018. 14,973 ha (42%) of other habitats in ‘favourable condition’ at March 2018. b) 22% in good condition (2016 Trends and Status Report). c) No ‘nature recovery areas’.


‘State of the Park’ indicator – YES