The 2018/19 traditional boundaries season began in early October with a two day dry stone walling course at Swainshead Hall Farm near Abbeystead, lead by master craftsman waller, Alan Rhodes, in partnership with the Dry Stone Walling Association. We also have 10 days of hedge laying planned with trainers Geoff Whitley, Joe Craig, Dave Padley and Andrew Kirkwood between October and January.
In additon, the Pendle Hill project will be holding training days in February and the annual hedge laying competition in March.
During the 2017/18 season nine hedge laying sessions took place involving 38 people with a total of 424m of hedge laid between four sites:
Crook O'Lune, Lancaster - 91m
Fell View Campsite, Scorton - 136m
Higher Gills Farm, Rimington - 115m
Lane Side Farm, West Bradford - 82m
Encouragingly, the sessions attracted a mix of regular volunteers alongside some new faces. Some people traveled a considerable distance to attend the days, which reflects the value these sessions are given.
The weather was particularly snowy/wet during the early part of 2018, which resulted in a number of sessions being cancelled and re-scheduled.
Poor weather also led to the cancellation of this year's Bowland Hedge Laying Competition, which is organised by the Lancashire and Westmorland Hedge Laying Association.
W4M is a 12 month project funded by Lancashire Environmental Fund in which 6 community groups are being supported with funding, training and on-site support to become proficient in the production of plug plants for the meadow sites they are looking forward. The project is also producing 4 instructional films as a legacy product to ensure that training material can be accessed into the future. The groups supported are: Lancaster Beekeepers Community Pollinator Patch Group; Slaidburn Guides; St James' school, Clitheroe; Friends of Spring Wood; Friends of Beacon Fell; Chipping in Bloom.
Plans have been produced for Greater Butterfly orchid, Globeflower and Juniper.
All three plans are underway.
Advice has been given to potential applicants, NE colleagues and agreement holders on the suitability of sites for meadow restoration, the methods of restoration in practice and the ways of demonstrating success. Numbers are not precise as advice ranges from phone calls through to repeat farm visits, but is in the region of 4-8/yr.
Worked jointly with the Friends group to carry out a habitat management task on Worsaw Hill SSSI near Downham. This involved pulling out hawthorn saplings to prevent their spread on this species-rich grassland.
The new Countryside Stewardship scheme (NELMS as was) encourages catchment based action through the funding of Facilitation Groups through a competitive process. In 2015, RRT were successful in getting funding for a group on the Loud catchment and the AONB team have contributed in the targeting of this group - in particular - areas within the catchment where boundary restoration is a priority; farms with potential for meadow restoration.
In July 2015, through the Hay Time project and an HLS agreement amendment, green hay from Bell Sykes SSSI was transferred and spread onto new Ings Meadow, in order to: restore cover of yellow rattle, red clover, eye bright and hawkbits; reduce grass:herb ratio; increase number of indicator species; inoculate with seed of other meadow species.
This work is intended to improve the condition of the habitat. The site will be revisited from 2016 to see at what point there is a change in the condition assessment.
In Jan 2015, it was decided that a woodland survey was the top habitat survey priority. As the staff resource was limited, the number of BHS sites alone within the AONB is 197 and because the Pendle LPS area has recently been deliniated, it was decided that it made good sense to start off with the survey of the BHS woodlands within the Pendle area. This was done using the LWT rapid assessment method. 40% of sites were surveyed in the spring of 2015, the rest will be done in the spring of 2016. The rapid assessment method was very effective in showing management needed, and the results from the sample were used in drawing up the Pendle LPS application. trainees from the Biodiverse Society project helped in the 2015 survey, as did colleagues from the AONB & LCC team.
During the summer of 2014 & 2015, large amounts of Himalayan Balsam were pulled from the hedges and edges of Clear Beck Meadow. It was reported that less was in evidence in 2015 than in 2014, but the location of the site next to a water course mewans that this needs to be an ongoing management action. The work was undertaken by AONB, LCC & NE staff together with members of Friends of Bowland.
An assessment is needed as to the next steps of restoration - soil compaction has been identified as a problem.
An assessment of the peatland restoration work still to be completed within the AONB area was undertaken as the Priority peat 2013 project, which was produced as a report in April 2014. The matrix approach allows priorities for action to be determined based on a large number of datasets and consultation with key partners. It has since been used to prioritise sites to be put into EU LIFE+ bids (2014 & 2015) and to direct EA funds to 'shovel ready' projects (eg work on Brown Syke, Abbeystead).
The N4N project aimed to help create a living network of nectar hubs for bees and other pollinating invertebrates across the AONB by creating small patches of species rich grassland and corn field annual patches, mainly on non-farmed land such as in school grounds, businesses and community spaces.
The project created 25 nectar patches, 7 mini-meadows and worked at a field scale to restore 35 ha of meadows as well. The project worked with 10 community groups, 6 private landowners, 10 businesses and 5 schools. We organised 12 public events, attracting 170 people.
The Bowland Hay Time project has restored 35 ha of meadows during 2014 & 2015. This has been possible through partnership working with the N4N project, LEF, the Coronation Meadows project, NE and YDMT. We used green hay and brush harvested seed, as well as plug planting on several sites.
In 2016 we restored 20 ha with a further 11ha in 2017, all using green hay, brush harvested and vacuumed seed. Sites included SSSIs (New Ings and Tarnbrook) in need of seed addition.
In 2018 a further 3 meadows of feild scale restoration were completed through Bowland Haytime
Separate Festival Bowland events brochure produced for 2014.
Festival Bowland programme for 2015 included as part of Discover Bowland guide.
2016 programme currently under development and will be included as part of discovery guide again.
A survey of the BHS (and other) meadows and pastures was begun in 2012 and continued in 2013. There are some sites still to complete, as this survey prioritised meadows over pastures and did not look at wet grasslands. Need an assessment of which sites are still to be surveyed.
|Action||Targets and Timescales||Partners|
|1.3D||Restore and re-wet areas of blanket bog habitat as identified in the AONB Peatland Restoration Plan||
Restoration and re-wetting of 35hectares of blanket bog habitat (subject to funding availability)
|1.3E||Play an active role in local and regional peatland initiatives (e.g. Lancashire and Pennine Peat Partnerships) to seek additional funding to deliver AONB Peatland Restoration Plan||
Lancashire Upland Peat Partnership restoration plan (incl. AONB data) complete
AONB projects included in Pennine Peat Partnership bid for EU LIFE+ funding
|1.3F||Conserve, restore and create species-rich grassland habitats||
Jointly deliver 'Networks for Nectar' project with YDMT (funded by LEF to end Sep 2015)
Restore 10ha. of hay meadow
Restore and ensure management of 12 small species-rich grassland sites
|Action||Targets and Timescales||Partners|
|2.1B||Continue to support the development of the 'Bowland Land Managers Forum' to represent the land management sector locally, regionally and nationally (e.g. influencing the development and implementation of local rural development programmes in Lancashire and North Yorkshire)||
Hold 4 meetings per year (min.)
Forum members nominated for proposed RDPE/LEADER Local Action Group(s) covering the AONB
|2.1D||Develop collaborative land management projects involving farmers and major landowners in the AONB (e.g. restoration of black grouse/grey partridge, pilot predator control areas for ground-nesting birds, woodfuel, training & apprenticeships)||
Develop at least 2 collaborative land management projects.
|2.1I||Broker discussions with Natural England on future direction of moorland management in Bowland, particularly in relation to grazing and burning/cutting regimes and bracken control||
Hold AONB 'Upland Management ' seminar