Living Uplands

Natural History of Upper Teesdale

9 - Conservation

This northern Pennine dale is by almost any measure a very special place. Upper Teesdale is amongst the most remote and relatively unspoilt places in England and has long been recognised as having some very special geological features, archaeological remains, unique habitats and celebrated wildlife. The mostcelebrated rare habitats and their suite of famous species largely persist as post-glacial survivals on the unique sugar limestone, rocky outcrops and limestone flushes. The Dale continues to be a tourist attraction and to excite scientific research, while providing a livelihood and home to thousands of people.

A plethora of conservation measures, particularly related to wildlife, has been applied over recent decades with some, but not universal, success. Conservation significance has always been high but in recent years its value and importance have grown even more against the wider context of the continuing trends of biodiversity decline almost everywhere else in the English Uplands. The only exceptions to this slow decline seem to be uplands where there has been a vision to restore habitats and species through recovery programmes. Where more sustainable methods have been implemented by farmers, land owners and land managers using their own resources and with help from agri-environment schemes, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), some local authorities and occasionally funds from water companies, the trends of decline have been successfully reversed. Where resource and resolve have been applied, geological and archaeological conservation has also been successful.

The restoration of habitats and more natural processes in Upper Teesdale will increase resilience and adaptation to the uncertainties and extremes of a changing climate. Restored and natural peat bogs will retain their carbon stores and help to fix and lock-up more atmospheric carbon as well as becoming more wildlife-rich.

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