Cosseting coastal streams

John Beech – Land Management Adviser

Over the winter months and tree planting season as part of our on-going quest to promote habitat connectivity in the North York Moors we’ve been working on coastal streams and linking up bankside (riparian) woodlands. There are a number of these coastal streams that run down from the east edges of the moorland plateau and don’t merge with a river but instead each continue east and end up running into the North Sea along the North York Moors coast.

Some of these coastal stream catchments have persistent water quality issues. By judicious land management and habitat stimulus we can combine the two objectives (extend habitat connectivity AND improve water quality) and make best use of available knowledge, skills and resources. Stabilising and fencing off banks to minimise sedimentation and to keep stock out of the water, along with buffering agricultural run-off, can have extensive impacts downstream and on the coast where the streams meets the sea.

Bankside tree planting underway - NYMNPA

This has been a real partnership effort. The National Park Authority’s northern work force – with any luck, skilled environmental workers for the future, the Northern Apprentice Team – strove through the mud and planted a good mix of native trees and shrubs, whilst land managers installed the fencing. Together we managed to fence over 600 metres of land and plant around 1,000 trees in gaps alongside the watercourses.

View of tree planting and fencing work near Mickleby - NYMNPA

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this work, not least the Environment Agency who paid for materials through their Tree Mitigation Programme.

This isn’t a solution in itself, but it’s part of an expanding effort to tackle water quality problems. For information on Defra’s available advice and grants – see Catchment Sensitive Farming.

Thank you and Merry Christmas!

David Renwick – Director of Conservation

I’ve been lucky enough over the past couple of months to have visited a number of farmers and land owners in various parts of the National Park. I’ve seen first-hand how challenging but rewarding their way of life is and how it’s very much more than a job! They live, breathe and sleep the work they do and it’s that work which keeps the North York Moors landscape what it is – iconic, beautiful and inspiring. They are trying to make a living from a sector that faces uncertainty and change  – vastly varying prices, and increased red tape along with increasingly arm’s length support such as the new ‘digital by default’ requirements – I could go on.

Winter sun - North York Moors landscape - by David Renwick, NYMNPA

But despite the challenges there are still many success stories in the National Park farming story and these help create the backdrop to the delivery of good environmental outcomes – be it farmers working with us on habitat connectivity; traditional boundaries being restored and managed within the landscape; catchment sensitive farming actions to protect water resources and preserve soil nutrient; or woodland management to provide cover, habitat and wood fuel.

ELS - grass margin and beetle bank establishment - NYMNPAEvery farm is different and every farmer has a different philosophy which is applied to their
particular holding. It is the interaction of these two things which results in differing opportunities for us to work with land managers positively in order to take forward our priorities. Some farms are livestock only; some are mixed arable and livestock. Some farms are dairy and some are mixed Charolais cattle - by Ami Walker, NYMNPAdairy, beef and sheep. We have hill farms with moor flocks. We have traditional hefts and robotic dairy parlours. We have organic, upland,
lowland, coastal…we have pigs, poultry, ducks and geese…the list goes on and the combinations are endless. The diversity of farming in the Park is great.Moorland Sheep - NYMNPA

But regardless of the particular blend of farming on any one farm we are confident there is always a way in
which a balance can be struck to allow land management that makes economic and environmental sense – and keeps the landscape looking tip Drystone wall - Bragg Farm, Farndaletop too! We look forward to continuing our work with our farmers in 2015 and beyond. I hope the National Park can make a really positive contribution to help – be it lobbying for land
management interests in the area, helping disseminate best practice and supporting networks for farmers, making links into wider opportunities like the Local Enterprise Partnerships, providing our own modest grant support or signposting to that of others.

Thank you to all the National Park’s farmers, land managers, land owners and estates and I hope they, and everyone else who we’ve worked with in 2014, have a good Christmas and a Happy New Year. Well-earned I’m sure.

Roadside robin - Murk Esk Guided Walk - by Emily Collins, NYMNPA