Friends of the Lake District properties: contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation

Friends of the Lake District (FLD) currently own or manage 12 properties across Cumbria. These comprise:

  • Common land at Little Asby, east or Orton (464ha)
  • Grazing land at Mazonwath, adjacent to Little Asby Common (13.5ha)
  • Farmland at High Borrowdale, south of Shap (44ha)
  • Grazing land and woodland at the Helm (eastern side), Oxenholme, Kendal (34 ha)
  • Woodland at Mikes’s Wood, Staveley (5.ha)
  • Hows Wood, Eskdale (8 ha)
  • Gillside and Tongue Gill woods, Grasmere (7 ha)
  • Greenbank and Sweden Woods, Ambleside (3 ha)
  • Resp Haw and Bull Coppice woods, Rusland (7.5ha)

In total therefore, we own or manage some 586 ha of land.

Whilst climate change mitigation and adaptation is not the primary reason we own or manage land, it is an important factor we take into account when deciding on our management regime.

There are two aspects that we consider.

  1. Mitigation and carbon capture – addressing the causes of climate change and limiting the magnitude of global warming, eg by storing carbon.
  2. Adaptation – addressing the impacts of climate change to limit or reduce changes eg increased run off and sedimentation from high impact rainfall events, increased flooding, changing weather patterns impacting on wildlife.

Overall our properties are helping reduce the impacts of climate change and are also storing carbon as well as contributing to other elements of natural and cultural capital. 

Storing carbon:

  • New trees and woodlands

In the last 15 years we have planted around 25,000 native broadleaved trees to form new woodlands. When established, this represents just under 44 ha of new woodland. This is on top of previous work to establish a new native woodland and convert a coniferous woodland back to broadleaves.

  • Management of existing woodlands

We have 21.3 ha of established woodland which are actively managed for succession and so will continue to sequester carbon.

  • Grassland

Studies are increasingly showing that established grassland with longer roots can also store carbon, up to 3 tonnes per hectare per year. Our grassland amounts to 520ha, so this would give us a figure of potentially 1560 tonnes of carbon sequestered a year. 

  • Reduced and changed grazing

Reducing grazing pressure can result in increased carbon sequestration in soils. On 520ha of our land we have reduced the levels of grazing and soil impaction by poaching so this should help soil sequester carbon. 

Adapting to climate change impacts

  • Slowing the flow

Trees help to reduce flood flows by evaporating more water, increasing water absorption by the soil, roughening up land surfaces and decreasing soil erosion. Our woodland areas and longer, rougher grass within them will help slow the flow of water on 65 ha of land.

  • Reducing erosion and sedimentation:

A number of actions on our land help reduce erosion and sedimentation. These include tree planting and woodland management on 65 ha of land which helps bind the soil together and reduce run off. Allowing longer grass and rougher vegetation, together with buffer strips on 520ha of our agricultural land has similar impact by providing a physical barrier that helps restrict the flow of storm water, carrying sediment and nutrients, and preventing them from being washed from the field into watercourses. In addition, we allow the Borrowbeck to meander through our land at High Borrowdale, the increasing curves of the river helping reduce the flow of water and river bank erosion. 

In addition, we are undertaking research with the University of Cumbria and United Utilities to test different types of material to use on eroded slopes. Traditionally used materials to stabilise slopes and eroded soils have been coir and jute which are impermeable. We are testing the use of sisal which is permeable and if successful may help reduce sedimentation and run off. 

  • Low input grassland

All of our properties which have grassland (520ha) are low input with no applications of fertilisers other than once a year farm yard manure if at all. This is helping reduce the amount of nitrates and phosphates going into watercourses and waterbodies, in turn helping restore them to good ecological status and reducing impacts on wildlife and occurrences of for example algal blooms.

  • Helping pollinators and biodiversity

Many pollinators and other insects are in decline. Research has shown that more diverse and species rich grassland helps pollinators, birdlife and insects. We have re-created 6ha of upland hay meadow and our ecological assessments show the increase in biodiversity. We also have buffer strips around our grassland areas where wildlife and plants are free to do as they wish

In addition we have put up networks of bee hotels across our properties to give a home to masonry and solitary bees. 

Property

Carbon storage - trees

Carbon storage - grassland

Slowing the flow

Reduced erosion & sediment

Low inputs

Pollinators- meadow; bee hotels

Pollinatos – hay meadow

High B

Little Asby

 

 

 

 

Mazonwath

(✔)

 

 

Helm

 

Hows Wood

 

 

 

 

Mike’s Wood

 

 

 

Greenbank Wood

 

 

 

 

Sweden Wood

 

 

 

 

Gillside Wood

 

 

 

 

Tongue Gill Wood

 

 

 

 

Resp Haw Wood

 

 

 

 

Bull Coppice Wood