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Beautiful Belties in The Yorkshire Dales A herd of beautiful belties

Impact on…

… farming and land management

Within the National Park livestock farmers over several centuries have created a traditional pastoral landscape – much of which survives today. The onset of climate change is likely to be a key influence on how this landscape is managed in the future, with changes to land and farm management systems likely as growing seasons and habitats change.

Potential climate change impacts include:

  • changes in grazing patterns with increasingly dry conditions in limestone and hay meadow habitats and boggier conditions around rivers and streams;
  • changes in use of land, with a switch from livestock to arable and forage crops such as maize. This would be most likely on the eastern edge of the National Park, affecting approximately 10% of the current productive farmland;
  • livestock requiring more shelter – both for shade in the summer and from storms and wetter conditions in the winter;
  • management changes being required on moorland, as a result of drier conditions and potential increases in the occurrence of wildfires.

Farmers and land managers are being supported through the Catchment Sensitive Farming project to adapt to the impacts of increased levels of flooding and wetter conditions. The Yorkshire Peat Partnership will play a key role in influencing management changes on moorland habitats.

The Farm Carbon toolkit is helping to identify actions that could be taken to make farms more sustainable and put them on a path towards achieving ‘net zero’ carbon dioxide emissions.

… the landscape

The National Park’s landscape and its features – shaped by geology and natural processes as well as the interaction between people and nature have evolved over thousands of years. Climate change impacts are likely to continue to shape the landscape and the way we interact with it.

Potential climate change impacts include:

  • gorges, waterfalls and river landscapes changing with drier conditions in the summer leading to, for example, loss of the ‘white water spectacle’ while wetter winter conditions produce more dramatic water features;
  • higher levels of soil moisture and more flash flood events changing slope and soil stability with potential for more landslips and rock falls. Iconic features such as the Norber Erratics may be more at risk of damage;
  • trees becoming more prevalent in the landscape with an increased demand for shade for livestock, shading of water courses, river bank stabilisation and potential development of the bio-fuel market;
  • trees being affected by drought conditions – with increased tree losses especially on newly established plantations and an increase in the prevalence of pests and diseases due to more damp humid conditions;
  • as buildings and developments adapt to climate change and incorporate mitigation measures for the future, changes to the built landscape are also likely.
Cotter Force
Cotter Force – One of the National Park’s most accessible waterfalls.

Current and planned actions that will support the Yorkshire Dales’ landscape to adapt to climate change include the Yorkshire Peat Partnership and the Catchment Sensitive Farming project as well as the ‘Woodland Siting and Design Guide‘ and woodland management plans.

… communities and local economy

The impact of climate change on communities, their culture and the local economy are likely to be experienced in relation to housing, energy and water use, as well as changes to employment opportunities and access to isolated communities.

Farmers Market, Grassington, Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales National Park

Potential climate change impacts include:

  • hotter summers and warmer winters affecting building design, with more demand for air conditioning and storm proofing measures for example;
  • changes to domestic water supply levels, with an increased need for winter water storage to balance summer water shortages;
  • changes to the characteristics of local economies – with more visitors in the summer, and more seasonal tourism patterns;
  • increasing potential for alternative energy sources to be viable – for example, through hydro and solar power schemes.

… biodiversity

Climate change models predict different outcomes for biodiversity. It is impossible to be certain about the exact impacts that will be experienced. This is because interactions between different species, and between species and the habitats they occupy are so complex.

globeflower
Globeflower – Credit: YDNPA

General impacts

However, there are some general impacts that are likely to affect species and habitats in the National Park:

  • extensive areas of moorland containing important areas of upland heath and blanket and raised bog being affected by drier conditions, leading to peat shrinkage, and affecting the potential of these areas for carbon storage.
  • more incidences of drought in upland hay meadows with habitats changing in structure, and an increase in more drought-tolerant species.
  • changes to ground water resources and springs affecting species such as bird’s eye primrose, rigid buckler fern and globeflower, which rely on lime-enriched conditions.
  • changes in the range for species to thrive – for example, species such as Arctic Juniper, which currently reaches its southern limit in the National Park, retreating northwards, and an increased prevalence of non-native species and southerly species that are no longer confined to their existing range.
  • in drier summers, increased biological respiration and lower dissolved oxygen content in streams affecting species such as white clawed crayfish; aquatic moss; liverworts and stonefly.