New habitat creation project starts
21 May 2024

Under a new DEFRA Stewardship agreement we are beginning work on a habitat creation project on School Knott and Grandsire, a special area of upland grassland, mires and pasture, covering just under 100 hectares. 

Habitat creation

The aim is to enhance and develop habitats to support threatened species of butterflies and moths, and to plant a diverse mix of tree and scrub species to create wood pasture. These tree and scrub species have been carefully chosen to be typical of this upland landscape and will provide food and nectar sources for rare and threatened invertebrate species.   

Woodland pasture

Careful planting of around 3,500 trees will ensure existing habitat is not adversely affected. Species have been specially selected to suit the soil type and topography and include alder, common juniper, holly, hazel, rowan, small leaved lime, blackthorn, crab apple and wild cherry. 

Older trees will be retained and as they decay they will provide habitats for invertebrates. Trees in wood pasture, which are open grown, gain girth faster than trees in closed canopy woodland, and capture about twice as much carbon as the same area of closed canopy woodland, and much more than grazed pasture.

The target invertebrate species are indicators and the habitats created should increase the diversity of species over the whole site.  Plug planting with devil's bit scabious, marsh violet and primrose will contribute to the extension of habitat. Our native breed cattle will continue to graze throughout to maintain the diversity in the sward and for scrub control. 

Nature loves water 

There are species rich mires over much of Grandsire, which includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Within some of these, work has started to block small drains at 10 points across the land, to enable these to remain wetter in dry summer weather in order to retain key species.

School Knott Tarn will be enhanced by riparian planting - planting trees and shrubs along watercourses, being careful not to cause too much shade, and the covered culvert leading down from the tarn will be opened to allow the stream to find its natural course again. A number of scrapes will retain water offering further opportunities for the spread of habitat supporting target species and will also be of benefit to many other species.

Broad Benefits

The design of the wood pasture scheme, and the interventions to enhance wetland areas, have been carried out by local specialists, under the supervision of Natural England.  The scheme will benefit the existing biodiversity, landscape character, water quality, carbon storage and to some extent flood risk management. 

This part of the farm is popular with walkers so you may see work taking place over the coming months. We'll share more updates here as the project develops.

You may also like
Recent news articles

Your Lake District Cottage Holiday starts here