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‘Electro fishing’ field research in Upper Wensleydale on 5 September 2023, led by Jonny Grey (centre). Conserving rivers is a big part of the Nature Recovery Plan.

‘Nature Recovery Plan’ published

Monday 18 September, 2023, by News Release

***UPDATE 26 Sept:   The National Park Authority today adopted the Nature Recovery Plan during a meeting in Bainbridge.    Member Champion for the Natural Environment, Mark Corner, told the meeting there was an ‘urgent need for nature recovery’, which was underpinned by ‘shocking statistics regarding species decline and extinction risk’.

He said: “The Yorkshire Dales National Park, as a protected landscape, could and should be an exemplar of how thriving nature and profitable land management can go hand in hand. Though we have some excellent examples of this happening today, there is so much more that we could be doing for wildlife.

“This plan provides the basis of a road map to get us to a more natural, wildlife-rich National Park, with bigger, better, and more joined-up habitats.”

Mr Corner said the success of the plan depended on farmers and landowners receiving support to bring about the changes required, which he summarised as being to do with grazing management; scrub and woodland creation and management; peat restoration; and hay meadow creation and enhancement.***

18 Sept News Release: Representatives from the major national and local conservation bodies working in the Yorkshire Dales National Park have come together to produce a ‘Nature Recovery Plan’.

The Yorkshire Dales Biodiversity Forum says the draft plan ‘puts flesh on the bones’ of an ambition set out in the current National Park Management Plan, to make the National Park ‘home to the finest variety of wildlife in England by 2040’.

The Biodiversity Forum has sought advice from the members of the Dales Farming & Land Management Forum and the Dales Woodland Forum to help shape the Nature Recovery Plan, which addresses key subjects such as livestock grazing, moorland management and the health of rivers.

The draft plan has been published today as part of a set of papers for next week’s meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority  (see agenda item 5); the plan is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

It includes a ‘position statement’ on grazing that emphasises the importance of retaining and expanding the use of ‘very low-input’ farming systems to maintain and enhance many of the distinctive habitats for which the National Park is renowned.

The plan also includes a list of almost 400 important species present in the National Park for which conservation action is needed.  These are divided into three categories according to the approach to be taken to conserving them.  ‘Category 1 species’ are those that will require additional, bespoke conservation action that goes beyond just good habitat management.  These species include birds such as swift and hen harrier, mammals such as water vole, and plants such as burnt orchid.

The National Park Authority’s Senior Wildlife Conservation Officer, Tony Serjeant, who has co-ordinated the work of the Biodiversity Forum, has spoken about the Nature Recovery Plan in a blog post.

The Chair of the Yorkshire Dales Biodiversity Forum, Peter Welsh, said: “The Yorkshire Dales National Park is rich in wildlife compared with much of the rest of England.  But serious problems remain and this is a call to arms to help address the linked biodiversity and climate emergencies.  There is so much more we could be doing for wildlife.  Change is needed.  That’s what the Nature Recovery Plan sets out.”

He added: “Some people see wildlife conservation as being in conflict with farming and other countryside businesses.  However, we believe we can have – and urgently need – fantastic nature as part of thriving farm businesses.  There are some brilliant examples of farmers who are already showing how this can be done in the National Park.  What’s essential is that farmers, as well as landowners with interests in sporting, forestry and other forms of land management, have access to the resources and support they need to carry out the sort of nature recovery work that the public so obviously wants to see.”

The Nature Recovery Plan includes specific, measurable objectives for five broad landscape types.  For freshwater rivers, the objectives include more becks being allowed to take their own course and a significant programme of woodland creation along riverbanks to provide more shade. 

A member of the Yorkshire Dales Biodiversity Forum, Jonny Grey (pictured), who is Lancaster University’s professor in practice with the Wild Trout Trust, said:  “Public awareness of the plight of our rivers has gained significant traction in recent years. Becks and rivers should be the capillaries and arteries flowing through our Dales landscape but have been shackled and constrained for centuries. The Nature Recovery Plan presents bold targets and the Biodiversity Forum provides a platform for partnerships with relevant organisations and landowners to achieve those targets.”

If adopted by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority at next week’s meeting, the Nature Recovery Plan will be shared with the National Park’s local authorities:  North Yorkshire Council, Westmorland and Furness Council and Lancashire County Council.  Under the 2021 Environment Act these councils are each now responsible for preparing a ‘Local Nature Recovery Strategy’.  It is hoped that the Nature Recovery Plan for the Yorkshire Dales National Park area will inform and influence those strategies, helping to channel future investment into the places where farmers and landowners can do the most for nature.  

Picture of News Release

News Release

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority


4 Replies to “‘Nature Recovery Plan’ published”

  1. David Tyres says:

    The Yorkshire Dales recovery plan needs to take a long hard look at itself , Yet again another Hen Harrier added to the list , Ive just had the pleasure of a week on Mull where I saw raptor after raptor , eagles , buzzards and many harriers , and not a gamekeeper in sight , they are an absolute disgrace to the Dales a national embarrassment , hundreds of thousands of pounds are spent each year on watching wildlife and raptors are a massive pull , the Dales are missing out on an awful lot of revenue because of a horrible selfish lot , gamekeepers are out of control in North Yorkshire

    • SjB says:

      Mull might be a raptor haven but Scotland in general has a problem with the illegal killing of raptors, including hen harriers.

      I do agree with your frustration though. There’s totally no point in these parks coming up with grandiose plans that then tiptoe around the crux of their problems, which is ultimately… humans killing the in order to chase money/profit. There’s no sticking plaster that you can put over a broken arm. You have to deal with these out of control gamekeepers, poachers and estate owners. YDNP, stop talking and just get tough, I say.

  2. TG says:

    I’m not sure where the chair of the National Park’s Biodiversity Forum gets his facts from…

    Statements like… “The Yorkshire Dales National Park is rich in wildlife compared with much of the rest of England” are part of the problem and reflect the lazy self-congratulatory thinking that has characterised leadership in the Dales for decades. We have been sold the line that the Dales Landscape is “wild” “iconic” “breathtaking” etc etc.

    In fact it is an industrially damaged landscape stripped of almost all its natural habitats.

    I would say to Mr Welsh, I have lived all over England and Wales, including close to the M25, and there is more nature almost anywhere but here.

    I am hopeful that the new suite of agricultural support will enable landowners, farmers, gamekeepers to earn a living whilst also restoring natural ecosystems. Economics is no longer a barrier. It just requires the will.

    • Andrew Fagg says:

      Please be assured there is no complacency behind Mr Welsh’s remark, which is repeated as the very first line of the Introduction to the Nature Recovery Plan (which can be downloaded here – The very next line is, ‘However, there is evidence even here of decline in the quality of important habitats and of some key species’. The Introduction goes on to say, ‘There is so much more we could be doing together for wildlife in the National Park’.
      In terms of sources, the Biodiversity Forum has a wealth of data to draw on – for instance the ‘trends and status’ reports which can also be downloaded from that page. You might be interested also in the evidence report on wildlife published at the time of the last National Park Management Plan update (it’s a few years old and will shortly be updated, but it presents key facts and sources):
      The hope you express in your last paragraph is certainly shared here.

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