Nature conservation in Britain has traditionally focused on the protection of special sites or rare species. In Cumbria we are lucky to have a plethora of such sites with over 1600 County Wildlife Sites alone. By protecting these sites as refuges for our native plants and animals we have done much to slow the loss of wildlife across the British Landscape over the last century.
But we need to do more, and the threat of climate change makes a new approach more urgent. A 2o Celsius rise in mean temperature (the least we can expect) will move the limits of tolerance of a species 150 miles north or nearly a thousand feet up the fell side – so plants and animals living in small, isolated nature reserves may face extinction unless they can disperse over adjacent land. For that we need habitat continuity – or at least wildlife corridors. Conservation has to be concerned with the whole landscape. The more we can make the wider countryside a place where wildlife can flourish, the better hope we have of ensuring that Cumbria remains a beautiful and uplifting place.
Lakeland Living Landscapes
The Lake District has some of the greatest variety and extent of wildlife habitats in England. It has the highest mountains and deepest lakes and is set within one of the most popular national parks in the country. Despite the wealth of biodiversity within the fells, much of the uplands remain in poor condition through historical management regimes, driven by post war agricultural subsidies, that focused on intensive food production at the expense of the wildlife. This poor management, coupled within the huge potential for restoration that new agri-environmental schemes bring, has led to the development of the Lakeland Living Landscapes.
Working closely with land owners and local communities, the Lakeland Living Landscapes aims to retain, restore and reconnect high quality habitats within the Lake District. This will not only allow species to move more freely through the landscape allowing them to adapt to climate change, but will also lock up CO2 in peat and woodlands, stabilise soils and purify water as it flows off the fell.
We wish to see the wealth of wildlife that these changes would bring valued by the local community and championed to visitors, making the Lake District a home for wildlife watchers the world over. No other organisation is working as hard as Cumbria Wildlife Trust to make this vision a reality. Learn more about our individual projects which aim to put this vision into practice.