New native woodland has been created at an even greater scale than hoped for during the past year in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, while water quality has improved, and ‘massive investment’ has been made in areas such as Upper Ribblesdale and Swaledale.
The annual report of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Management Plan 2019-24 (NPMP), published today (22 June), also highlights progress made in the past year on building broadband infrastructure, achieving International Dark Sky Reserve status for the National Park, and making more rights of way accessible to all including people using wheelchairs.
The annual report was finalised at a meeting of the NPMP steering group last Wednesday, and it will be debated at the annual general meeting of the National Park Authority a week today.
Alongside representatives from partner organisations such Natural England, the Dales Farmer Network and the District Councils, the NPMP Steering Group welcomed – for the first time – one of its two new ‘youth representatives’, 25 year old Laura Day from Orton in the ‘Westmorland Dales’ in Cumbria.
The steering group heard that the NPMP objective to create 450 hectares of new native woodland in the National Park between 2018 and 2024 had already been exceeded. A total of 232 hectares were planted in 2020/21, compared with 131 ha in 2019/20 and 90 ha in 2018/19.
The completion of the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership scheme – known as Stories in Stone – was noted as another important achievement. Over 5 years, the programme provided grants worth almost £1.7m to 170 individual projects, covering wildlife, cultural heritage, access improvements, and benefits to the local economy. Meanwhile the National Lottery-funded Tees-Swale: naturally connected programme had just started to bring ‘massive new investment’ to Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.
The Environment Agency reported that 62% of rivers in the Yorkshire Dales National Park were assessed to be in good ecological status in the past year, up from 47% in 2017. Since 2009, millions of pounds worth of grants had been provided through Natural England’s Catchment Sensitive Farming initiative to farmers to carry out work to reduce diffuse pollution, such as roofing over muck middens, and that had benefited water quality, the steering group meeting heard.
Posted on: 22 June 2021