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)
  • Office, Murley Moss, Kendal

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 and where we can take actions that have multiple benefits for the landscape, nature and cultural heritage, we will do so.

In terms of climate change, 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

We are only reporting our land management actions. Our tenants’ actions and their stock as well as the physical delivery of our own land management activities will of course each have an associated carbon cost meaning that the true 'net' result of our actions will be reduced as a result. There are also many ways of calculating carbon stored and many figures but overall it is likely that the properties are helping reduce the impacts of climate change and are also storing carbon. 

Storing carbon: our actions

  • 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, more than 15 years ago to establish a new native woodland and convert a coniferous woodland back to broadleaves.

According to the Forestry Commission woodland carbon code, a new native woodland can capture 300-400 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per hectare (tCO2e/ha) by year 50, and 400-500 tCO2e/ha by year 100. Ref

The FC carbon code spreadsheet shows if we put in 44 ha of new woodland which was not thinned, then we save 98.12 t/Co2 e, which is 2.23/ha but this needs to be treated with caution as we did not plant at a density of 1100 stems/ha with 2.5m spacing overall. The trees also need to grow up to save this amount of carbon.

Other Forestry Commission estimates show that on average woodland locks up 1.4 tonnes of carbon/year/ha, but this can be as much as 3.5 tonnes ( Using the above figures of 44ha of new woodland, this calculation would suggest we could have an average carbon sequestration of 61 tonnnes a year.

  • 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. Using the FC carbon code spreadsheet, this would store 47.5 tonnes of carbon a year. Using the Forestry Commission calculation referenced in the Telegraph, the average calculation of carbon stored by woodlands, these woods could store around 30 tonnes of carbon a year.

  • Grassland and grazing

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

Adapting to climate change impacts : our actions

Helping pollinators:

  • Hay meadow restoration

Pollinators are struggling and in decline. We have created 6ha of upland hay meadow at High Borrowdale. Returning to less intensive, more traditional meadow management is much better for bumblebees as it supports a far greater variety and density of flowers. Hay meadows also provide a nutritious and valuable feed crop. As well as this, across the fields at High Borrowdale and Mazonwath we leave wide field margins to encourage longer grass and flowers to grow and set seed.

  • Bee hotels

As part of our Landscape Gifts scheme we have been putting up bee hotels across our properties. Bee hotels can provide much needed shelter for solitary bees and wasps who have lost their traditional habitats for nesting and can encourage pollinators. 

Slowing the flow

Research shows that looking after existing native woodlands, targeting certain areas for tree planting, and letting grass grow longer/rough up will significantly slow overland flow of water and reduce river bank erosion within that area. We have planted trees exclude stock from our woodland areas so the vegetation is rougher; and we leave wide field margins where the grass is longer. This should all help slow the flow and also increase infiltration levels. We are helping slow the flow on 65ha of our land.

Reducing erosion and sedimentation

  • Trees and grass

As above, our woodland areas and wide field margins can help provide rougher vegetation that can act as a barrier to restrict the flow of water carrying sediment and nutrients. We have planted a wide buffer strip adjacent to the beck at High Borrowdale and hope the trees will stabilise the banks of the beck and help prevent erosion and siltation. We have taken these actions on 65ha of our land. 

  • Low input grassland

All of our properties (520ha) which have grassland 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. 

  • Research

We are working with the University of Cumbria and United Utilities to test materials put on eroded slopes which aid regrowth and reduce sediment run off. Traditionally coir and jute have been used, but they are non porous and in storm conditions have been washed away. We are trialling sisal, a permeable material to see how it performs. This is a three year research project. 

Office considerations

In 2020 we signed up to CBEN’s Green at Heart Scheme. This aims to decrease costs but address environmental impacts of small businesses. It will allow us to demonstrate and be recognised for good environmental practice whilst also encouraging continual improvement. There an annual audit and three levels of accreditation. Our first audit in spring 2020 gave us a bronze award. We are now working on further steps to help us achieve a silver award. These include : developing an action plan, establishing improvement goals and measuring success and publishing our Environmental Policy.

We also have an ethical policy and are taking steps to ensure our investments are ethical.

Summary of actions by 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











Hows Wood





Mike’s Wood




Greenbank Wood





Sweden Wood





Gillside Wood





Tongue Gill Wood





Resp Haw Wood





Bull Coppice Wood