Lakes high fells upland advisory project

The Lakes High Fells Upland Advisory Project has been developed primarily to help farmers with high-quality habitats on their land convert their expiring Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) agreements into new Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements.

Snipe Gallinago gallinago, adult, male, singing in the rain, in boggy edge of pasture, Northumberland


Core target areas for the project were chosen by mapping four ecological criteria; breeding waders, deep peat, woodland and upland heath and overlaying this with priority expiring ESA agreements. Although these core areas are the initial priority areas for the project, they are not fixed target areas and advisory work will be extended as necessary.
We see this project as a model for delivering an ‘ecosystem services’ approach to land management with water, biodiversity, carbon and access all acting as strong drivers for management.


  • To deliver face-to-face farm conservation advice and agri-environment scheme support to farmers and landowners.
  • To restore important upland habitats that support declining or scarce populations of upland bird species (including breeding waders, red grouse, woodland birds and potential for hen harriers).
  • Work closely with partners to demonstrate to farmers, foresters, decision makers and others the wider benefits of a landscape-scale approach to conservation management.
  • To provide ongoing support and commitment to help farmers deliver their agri-environment schemes.
  • Monitor schemes to ensure ecological and ecosystems services benefits are delivered and can be demonstrated.

Planned Work

HLS negotiations covering more than 26 square kilometres are ongoing with farmers and Natural England. This will in due course ensure restoration of fen, hay meadow, upland heath, scrub and woodland habitats.


Advice provided for land covering more than 42 square kilometres in the project area, stretching from fell top to valley floor. This has included:
  • Submitting applications to secure 22 square kilometres of priority habitats in HLS agreement.
  • HLS ‘aftercare’ visits to eight existing agreement holders, to ensure the options and management are working for both farmer and Natural England.


This is a partnership project between RSPB, Natural England, the Environment Agency & Lake District National Park’s Environmental Land Management Service, with support from the Forestry Commission.


PDF, 600Kb. Date: 30 September 2011

Lakes High Fells Futurescapes (west area)


Coast on a stormy day

Janet Fairclough

Conservation Advisor, RSPB
Tagged with: Country: England Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Grassland Habitat: Heathland Habitat: Upland Habitat: Wetland Habitat: Woodland Project status: Ongoing Project types: Advocacy Project types: Site protection Project types: Species protection