33,000ha nature project receives £4.1m funding in the North West

Cumbria Connect, a new partnership of landowners, farmers, and conservationists located in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales has received £4.1m in funding through the Endangered Landscapes Programme.

Funding has been provided to enhance 33,000ha of land by creating and restoring habitats, species reintroduction for red squirrels and water voles, and focusing on nature friendly farming in the area.

The region includes a diverse mix of landscapes such as moorland, upland fells, woodland, and lakes.

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Local farmers will receive support through the programme to help access grants through the Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes for carrying out nature friendly work.

The project is set to create about 10 jobs, for roles such as land managers and scientific researchers.

Natural England, RSPB, United Utilities, Lowther Estate, and the Orton Fells Farm Cluster are partners in the Cumbria Connect project.

Martin Varley, programme manager for Cumbria Connect said the programme will build bigger, better, and more connected spaces for nature combining leading conservation techniques, guided by scientific research, and harnessing the expertise and enthusiasm of local farmers and landowners.

Orton Fells Farm Cluster member and farmer Tim Winder said: “Our work is about combining the best of modern farming and traditional practices to ensure we produce healthy, sustainable food alongside a rich biodiverse landscape.

“We envision a future where thriving ecosystems co-exist with thriving farms, ensuring a prosperous legacy for generations to come.”

David Bliss, chief executive of Lowther Estate, said various organisations and farmers in the area have made valuable efforts towards conservation over the years.

“Now, Cumbria Connect aims to join up and co-ordinate these efforts on a landscape scale, creating a more cohesive and effective approach which will result in the landscape of Eastern Cumbria becoming of much greater value for both nature and people,” he said.

Natural England also welcomed the group and its role in supporting conservation, nature recovery and the transition for farming businesses.