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24 June 2021

Press Release

For immediate release

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Flagship nature restoration project to showcase ‘alternative future’ for the UK’s uplands

  • WWF, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England among those to partner on visionary new project: ‘Wild Ingleborough’ in the Yorkshire Dales.
  • The landscape-scale restoration covering over 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) demonstrates how UK nature can help fight climate change by capturing carbon here at home.
  • Local wildlife to benefit, including black grouse and red squirrel, with over 40 hectares of new native woodland to be created.

A visionary landscape-scale restoration project has been announced today, showcasing an ‘alternative future’ for the UK's uplands. Wild Ingleborough aims to restore an iconic area in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, around Ingleborough – the second highest peak in the Dales.

The project, which is a partnership between WWF, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, The University of Leeds, the United Bank of Carbon and The Woodland Trust, promises to be an important venture for people, nature and climate; working together with local communities including farmers to share skills and knowledge that will create a wilder future for Ingleborough.

The striking landscape includes swathes of bare limestone pavement and heavily grazed pasture. But in the future, the area will be transformed into a nature-rich haven, with a variety of rare flora and fauna to benefit from the restoration of their natural habitats.

Covering an area from the River Ribble up towards the mountain summit, Wild Ingleborough will see the restoration of peatlands and the expansion of native woodland and scrub, to remove and store carbon, helping to tackle the climate emergency. The project will initially cover 1,200 hectares and plans to be one of the first examples in England of re-establishing the natural tree line, from broadleaf woodland to dwarf shrub, heather moorland and lichen heathlands.

It will connect existing nature reserves in the area, creating a bigger, more joined up space for wildlife. In some places, vegetation will regenerate naturally, while in others the project will connect areas of woodland through tree planting. Over the next 12 months, the project will create around 40 hectares of new native woodland, with half created by planting 30,000 trees and the other half through natural regeneration.

By aiding nature’s recovery, the project hopes to protect and restore wildlife-friendly habitats, home to precious animal species including black grouse, red squirrel, cuckoos and curlew - of which there are currently only two pairs within the Ingleborough project area. The project will also focus on plants such as juniper - most of which around Ingleborough have suffered from disease - as well as bird’s-eye primrose, globeflower and the nine species of fern that can be found in the area.

In recent decades, intensive land use has had a heavy impact on the area, but now, as well as restoring the habitats of plants and animals, Wild Ingleborough will also help to protect against flooding, and improve the water and soil of the landscape. The project will work closely with local landowners, farmers and other members of the community to share knowledge of nature conservation as well as low-intensity farming practices. Academic monitoring of the project by the University of Leeds will provide an evidence-base for new policy to benefit rural communities and boost the recovery of UK nature.

Already, 300 hectares of land are being restored as part of the first phase of the project, with 3,000 native trees planted, including rowan, hawthorn and hazel, and hundreds of metres of drystone wall rebuilt.

Ahead of the critical COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this November, Wild Ingleborough provides a living example of how the UK’s uplands can be transformed.

Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF, said: Climate change and nature loss are two sides of the same coin; it’s vital that any efforts to safeguard our future and stabilise our climate have nature at their heart. The UK, as hosts of COP26, can lead efforts to boost nature’s recovery, including transforming the way we use our land – with Wild Ingleborough a blueprint for restoration.

“Through this project, we want to show that a wilder world is a more stable one, with nature more resilient and able to adapt to change. Together with our partners and the local community, we hope to create a rich, diverse landscape for people and wildlife to thrive.”

Rachael Bice, chief executive at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Ingleborough is one of the most iconic and cherished landscapes in our great county. The opportunity to support nature to flourish here is something we are incredibly proud to be involved in. By intervening carefully, we will see the landscape of the Dales transform; restoring natural process and communities of plants and animals, which will help to secure and enrich the future of Yorkshire’s residents and visitors too.”



About Wild Ingleborough

A partnership has formed between Natural England’s (NE) Ingleborough National Nature Reserve team, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT), The University of Leeds (UoL), The United Bank of Carbon (UBoC), Woodland Trust and WWF, to develop a project to further the restoration of wildlife habitats around Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. 

The partnership aims to undertake landscape-scale restoration of wildlife from the valley floor up towards the top of the mountain. This will aid nature’s recovery in this part of North Yorkshire by supporting low intensity farming and helping wildlife to be more resilient in the face of the climate emergency and other pressures.

About WWF

WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, active in nearly 100 countries. Our supporters – more than five million of them – are helping us to restore nature and to tackle the main causes of nature’s decline, particularly the food system and climate change. We’re fighting to ensure a world with thriving habitats and species, and to change hearts and minds so it becomes unacceptable to overuse our planet’s resources. 

WWF. For your world. 

For wildlife, for people, for nature. 

Find out more about our work, past and present, at:

About Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is the only charity entirely dedicated to conserving, protecting and enhancing wildlife and wild places in Yorkshire. Our vision is for a Yorkshire that is abundant in wildlife, with more people having a genuine and meaningful connection with nature.

We were established as a charity in 1946 and are part of The Wildlife Trusts movement. We look after over 100 nature reserves right across Yorkshire and are involved in hundreds of other conservation-related projects. Our work inspires people to understand the value of nature and to take action for it.

About the University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, with more than 38,000 students from more than 150 different countries, and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. We are a top ten university for research and impact power in the UK, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and are in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings 2021.

The Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere and Forest (LEAF) centre draws together expertise from multiple disciplines across the University of Leeds to strengthen and initiate partnerships such as the Wild Ingleborough project. Find out more:

Follow University of Leeds or tag us in to coverage: Twitter (UoL) / Twitter (LEAF); Facebook; LinkedIn; Instagram

About the United Bank of Carbon (UBoC)

UBoC is a registered environmental charity protecting, planting and restoring trees and forests in the UK and across the world. Working in partnership with other organisations, UBoC provides scientific support to policy and decision making around the dynamic relationships between trees, the wider environment, and people. Find out more: or tag us on Twitter.

About Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims are to protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable. The restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life. To plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free. The Woodland Trust works both on it’s own estate and with private landowners to protect, restore and create wooded habitats.  Find out more: UK's Largest Woodland Conservation Charity - Woodland Trust