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Species-rich meadow in Teesdale (c) North Pennines AONB Partnership Species-rich meadow in Teesdale (c) North Pennines AONB Partnership

Tees-Swale: naturally connected

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and North Pennines AONB are working in partnership to deliver this major natural heritage project that focuses on the landscape and communities of Upper Swaledale and Upper Teesdale. Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Tees-Swale: naturally connected is a truly innovative, ground-breaking initiative that collaborates with farmers and landowners across an 845 sq km area to put farming at the heart of nature and nature at the heart of land management.

Dr Ruth in a hay meadow
Dr Ruth Starr-Keddle, botanist and Land Management Facilitator from the North Pennines AONB Partnership carrying out a meadow survey in Upper Swaledale, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park

Tees-Swale: naturally connected was inspired by the report ‘Making Space for Nature’ and aims to restore, expand and connect habitats across the uplands of Swaledale and Teesdale, enhancing wildlife and delivering multiple public benefits. In partnership with farmers, landowners and conservation agencies, we will support and increase the skills needed to sustain the High Nature Value farming systems that work well in upland areas. We will be working across an area of Swaledale and Teesdale which covers 829 km2.

The project will:

  • enable farmers to share knowledge and their land management skills;
  • work to improve and restore habitats for the benefit of wildlife and to allow farms to work as a whole system;
  • sustain our valuable low intensity farming systems, which benefit wildlife, the environment and people;
  • connect visitors with the way the landscape is managed and why this is important to them, through interpretation, activities and improvements to rights of way;
  • build skills through traineeships and volunteering;
  • develop on-farm activities and a programme of temporary landscape art; and
  • build resilience in the farming communities for a strong future workforce.

In summer 2020 we secured £5.8m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, unlocking a further £3m in match funding. The map below shows the boundary of the project area in red:

Tees-Swale Project: naturally connected, boundary

Nature Capital Webinar for Tees-Swale Farmers

We recently held an online training session – predominantly aimed at farmers, land owners and land managers in the Tees-Swale area – covering the natural capital concept, how it applies to farmers through the new Environmental Land Management scheme and how they can prepare.

Delivered by Natural Capital Solutions it describes the move away from food production towards multiple benefits production and discusses the range of options open to farmers including working with neighbouring farms to form farm clusters and the mapping of natural capital assets in a farm plan. You can watch it back here: