Key Themes of the South Pennines Local Nature Partnership
The South Pennine Local Nature Partnership will take forward a number of key themes.
1. Celebrating our woodland heritage
Woodland is now a scarce resource with an estimated 4% woodland cover in the Southern Pennines, including locally distinctive oak clough woodland. Whilst the cover may be low and fragmented, around 50% of woodland is either publicly owned or fully accessible to the public, making this a resource that members of the public can freely access. This is a heritage asset with huge potential, but remains under-recorded, under appreciated, and as a result unprotected. A key project is to survey the under-recorded history of ancient and semi natural woodland in the South Pennines.
Pennine Prospects hosted a seminar on woodland heritage in Hardcastle Crags in November 2012 that attracted over 40 organisations. Using experience developed within the Watershed Landscape project there is now support to look at the hidden historical assets within our woodland.
Pennine Prospects has also commissioned a study looking at new planting in the South Pennines commissioning a study [ funded by the Woodland Trust] to look at woodland opportunities.
2. Understanding our audience
Pennine Prospects has worked in partnership with Natural England to commission a study to better understand the profile of visits taken to the South Pennines. This study is based on Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) data from 2009-2012. It has identified clear trends in levels of engagement with the natural environment dependant on geographic location. Pennine Prospects has identified , mostly urban communities where participation or engagement with the natural environment is low and will seek to address these in future programmes.
3. High nature value farming
Farmers and landowners are critical to managing our natural heritage whether this is the blanket bog of our uplands or the in-bye land. Much of the former is protected by designations [ Special Protection Areas or SSSI – Sites of Special Scientific Interest ] . The legacy of working with over 100 farmers in the South Pennines through the Twite Recovery Project is the clear understanding that to affect long term landscape change there is a need to engage with those who own, lease or work on the land. Their needs are critical and yet with an ageing population and changes in agricultural support for upland farms the future for our farming community and our landscape is uncertain. One of the unanticipated outcomes from the project was that farmers felt that their work was valued through the project. Pennine Prospects will continue to work with farmers and look to create an informal or formal advice network.
As fourth generation farmers working in the South Pennines we have been actively involved with the Twite Recovery Project. The Project has achieved so much more than just working with farmers on developing traditional haymeadows. It has become a link between farms, returned a sense of pride and restored the feeling of being valued in the area once again.The Twite Recovery Project gave them new purpose, a chance to share their knowledge and a link to the outside world.
4. Understanding our water environment
The key element to our watershed landscape is perhaps the most precious. The water supply to our towns and cities is taken for granted but dependent upon careful management of the water catchment. Protecting this asset; whether it is the internationally important blanket bog or the freshwater resources of our streams and rivers, will be at the heart of the work of the South Pennines Local Nature Partnership. For example, Pennine Prospects has begun to work with the Environment Agency to consider the ‘health’ of our water bodies; work guided by the Water Framework Directive. Pennine Prospects is also working with Calderdale Council with funding from DEFRA to look at the issues of food alleviation. Both projects have had their origins within the Watershed Landscape project.
Betony Atkinson and Max Corcos, two students are working with Pennine Prospects to survey the Upper Calder Valley looking at issues to do with the floods of 2012 ; part of the DEFRA-funded work to develop an awareness of ‘flood resilience’ in local communities affected by flooding.