Managing the biodiversity of the Lake District National Park

The Lake District Foundation has awarded a grant of £4,500 to the Cumbria Local Nature Partnership, enabling them to lead the development of a clear, strategic approach for managing the biodiversity of the Lake District National Park.

Local Nature Partnerships have been established to drive positive change in the local natural environment.  This funding will enable them to consider the broad picture across Cumbria, pooling knowledge and indentifying any gaps and challenges.  We will then be able to ensure that future funding is invested in the best possible places and projects, with the right people involved to deliver measurable benefits for wildlife, people and the economy.

We look forward to the development of this strategy, which will help us all ensure that we care for and protect the landscapes, wildlife and cultural heritage of the English Lake District in the best possible way.

‘Cultural Heritage’ within the Lake District World Heritage Site – Join the discussion

The Lake District’s World Heritage Site inscription includes its Cultural Heritage – but what does that mean?  If you live or work in or close to the Lake District, you will now have an opportunity to join in the discussion to help define and manage this special characteristic of the area.

The Lake District Foundation has awarded £4,500 for a series of community workshops to be held throughout Cumbria and the Lake District to help residents understand and take ownership of the Cultural Heritage of the Lake District World Heritage Site.

A pilot event held in May 2018 clearly demonstrated that there is currently a lack of understanding about World Heritage Status and what it might mean for local communities in the Lake District.  Equally important is the impact on communities on the periphery of the designated World Heritage Site.  Participants at the pilot workshop were keen to establish on-going dialogue so that local representatives share in the development of both identity and vision for the World Heritage Site.

Thanks to the funding from the Lake District Foundation, community development organisation ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) is now able to arrange a series of local engagement workshops.  These will enable residents to explore the benefits, opportunities and challenges presented by the Lake District’s World Heritage Status.  They will give local people an opportunity to help define the identity, protection and management of their cultural heritage.  Residents and community representatives from across the county will have an opportunity to attend workshops in Bootle, Broughton-in-Furness, Keswick, Glenridding and Grasmere.  The events will focus on listening to community views and exploring with them ways to work with the Lake District National Park Partnership (the body responsible for World Heritage Status inscription) to celebrate their cultural heritage and conserve the natural environment.

Tree planting at Mardale Common, Haweswater

The Lake District Foundation has awarded a grant of over £2,000 to the Royal Society for the protection of Birds (RSPB) for tree planting at its Haweswater Nature Reserve at Bampton, near Penrith.  Commencing in November 2018, the project will see 400 trees planted on Mardale Common over the coming two winters.  The new planting will enhance the resilience of the existing ancient woodland, which is vulnerable as trees become older and less able to withstand the spread of disease and the effects of climate change.

This valuable contribution will enable the RSPB to train and equip their active team of local volunteers to plant the saplings, sourced from their own Haweswater tree nursery, to create an area of new woodland on Mardale Common.  The trees will be surrounded with weldmesh protection, nurturing their survival into mature trees.  Planted at low density, the new trees will become the large open-grown landscape trees for future generations.  Currently, these large landscape trees are being lost in Cumbria at a faster rate than they are being replaced, and the Lake District World Heritage Site nomination highlighted the vulnerability of our ageing native tree population and the need for new planting in appropriate places.

The RSPB has extensive experience of tree planting at Haweswater, having managed the area in collaboration with the landowner, United Utilities, for over 40 years.  The project has been developed in consultation with the Woodland Trust, the National Trust and United Utilities to provide a co-ordinated response to the challenges.

The local community welcomes this important project, recognising the importance of woodlands in providing habitat to support a broad range of wildlife, as well as being concerned about the impact on the landscape caused by the loss of ancient trees.  The RSPB already has extensive experience of tree planting at Haweswater, where previous planting work has resulted in an increase in biodiversity, with gains recorded for species including red squirrels, tree pipits and whinchats.  Mardale Common is all designated public access land, and the new area of woodland can be reached using a number of public footpaths that pass nearby.

Whilst the RSPB is hugely grateful to the Lake District Foundation’s supporters whose donations have made this funding possible, they are indebted to their team of around 20 local volunteers who are committed to conserving the wildlife and landscape on their doorstep.  The group is open to all ages and abilities and is always actively seeking new members to join its weekly work parties.

The Lake District Foundation funds work to improve Dash Beck at Bassenthwaite

The Lake District Foundation has approved a grant of over £2,000 towards a project led by the West Cumbria Rivers Trust, working in partnership with Bassenthwaite Rotary Club, to enhance the habitat of Dash Beck and surrounding land.  The project was first conceived by local people, and they will be fundamental to the successful delivery of the works necessary to improve the habitat of Dash Beck for a range of wildlife, particularly salmon and trout.  The project will also improve the safety and accessibility of the footpath from Bassenthwaite village to the lake, benefiting the local community and visitors alike.

The River Derwent, Bassenthwaite Lake’s principal river, is internationally important for its salmon and trout populations but these are currently in decline.  Preliminary work shows that Dash Beck could be an excellent spawning habitat for salmon, trout and other salmonids, but is currently not reaching its potential.  The project will tackle pollution inputs, reduce sediment inputs to the beck, increase in-stream habitat diversity, allow more light to reach the river bed, and will manage the riverside woodland to enhance its suitability for a wider variety of species.  To achieve this, tasks will include clearing and repairing the footpath; stabilising the eroding bank with natural materials; coppicing bankside woodland to allow more light to reach the stream and increase diversity of woodland habitat; pulling Himalayan balsam; and fencing off the beck and footpath from the farmland.  Other planned work includes training for landowners on the benefits of coppicing by Cumbria Woodlands.

As much work as possible will be carried out by volunteers, and activities will give them the opportunity to learn about the stream and the threats it faces.  Volunteers from Bassenthwaite Rotary Club will be trained as Riverfly monitors, taking monthly surveys of invertebrates as indicators of water quality and siltation.  Local volunteers will continue to walk the beck to monitor Himalyan balsam and overgrowth, and will continue to control if necessary.

Work will also be carried out to maintain the footpath alongside Dash Beck down to a quiet area of Bassenthwaite lake shore, where it joins a network of other footpaths, including the long distance ‘Allerdale ramble’ trail.  The project will reduce the risk of bank erosion, making the footpath safer and improving access to the lake.

Dash Beck lies in the northern fells of the English Lake District, descending rapidly from its source on the north facing slopes of the Skiddaw massif over a series of cascades known as Whitewater Dash or Dash Falls, described by Wainwright as the finest succession of falls in the Lake District.  The lower reaches of Dash Beck, which is where the work will be carried out, continue through a small valley of the same name, through the village of Bassenthwaite before flowing into Bassenthwaite Lake at its north-eastern corner.

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