“How to ensure the Lake District survives” was the essential business of a Round Table conference held last week by 15 senior figures in farming and the environment. The discussion entitled Ecosystem Services in the Lake District; a Cultural Landscape created and maintained by Livestock Farmers was initiated and sponsored by Carlisle based H&H Bowe Limited and chaired by Lord Selborne, FRS, Chair of the Living with Environmental Change Partnership.
Julia Aglionby and Sir Martin Holdgate
The agenda dealt with the sometimes conflicting claims on the Lakes by its residents, visitors and users. It sought to identify the unique cultural landscape that has been created by the past - and how that identity can be maintained in the future.
The group discussed the persistence of traditional farming in the Lakes over 500 years which created a landscape that attracts 15 million visitors per year. It considered the trade-offs between biodiversity and traditional farming and how to balance the private interests of landowners and farmers with public interests in water quality and recreation. Opportunities for woodland creation were also explored as was the urgent need for economic instruments to pay farmers for the public goods they provide.
Giving us her feedback afterwards, Julia Aglionby, commons specialist at H&H Bowe who initiated the day said, “We had open, frank and respectful discussions between the farming community and those seeking enhancement of biodiversity, woodlands and water management.”
he conference, held on Thursday 29th September, at Mungrisdale Village Hall was a true reflection of the melting pot of interests that live in or are vested in the Lakes today. It included representatives from H&H Bowe, the NFU, Friends of the Lake District, the Environment Bank and Natural England, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Carrs Milling, the National Trust, NW Food and Farming, the Forestry Commission, Lake District National Park Authority, Action for Communities – Cumbria, the Living with Environmental Change Partnership, and Lancaster University, as well as Landowner and Hill Farmer representation.
Commenting afterwards, Julia Aglionby said: “ The conference fairly represented the sometimes conflicting needs of those who have ownership in the region, but that it showed that these interests could be discussed, respected and managed.”
She added, “Getting the balance right between the multiple outputs of the Lakes is challenging. Pre-requisites to progress are intensive local planning with communities to ensure ownership of plans, and adequate economic instruments, government policy and targets to support their implementation.”
The day concluded with all 15 providing individual action points to translate the discussion into action. Recurring themes were the need to instigate participatory planning at the valley level and how to respect and foster cultural landscape when seeking biodiversity gains e.g. through Higher Level Stewardship schemes.
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