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National Trust invites collaboration in response to challenges facing the Lake District

National Trust Assistant Director of Operations, Mike Innerdale
National Trust Assistant Director of Operations, Mike Innerdale

[T]HE National Trust, which directly looks after a fifth of the Lake District, is inviting local communities and expert organisations to join it in responding to challenges facing the Lake District. Included in those, says the conservation charity, are climate change, declining wildlife, the viability of hill farming and the impact of Brexit.

The Trust has set out seven principles to guide its work in the Lake District in the hope that this will lead to more effective ways of working with others.

The principles are based on understanding that the Lake District landscapes have changed and adapted for thousands of years, including to meet the evolving needs of people.  The principles are to: protect the natural and cultural fabric of the Lake District; work with nature; be guided by the lie of the land; adapt to the changing needs of society; find shared purpose; work with others; and, take the long view.

National Trust Assistant Director of Operations, Mike Innerdale, says the principles form a positive base for developing critical relationships and conversations that will enable the Trust to do more for nature, whilst also championing the cultural heritage and way of life that needs to continue if this globally significant and inspirational landscape is to be maintained and improved. Many of the issues the Trust sets out are at the heart of the Lake District National Park Management Plan and also the World Heritage Site bid, which will be decided on in July.

As Mike Innerdale explains: “We’re entering a new chapter in the history of the Lakes and how this landscape is being managed. Working with and being informed by our farm tenants, who manage much of the land in our ownership, as well as those who manage neighbouring land, will be critical. We recognise that we don’t have all the answers and we will achieve far more through collaboration.

“The implications of Brexit in particular is an area we want to make sure we are working with others on as funding for much of our land management comes, currently, from Europe. We think providing benefits to society that include clean water, healthy soils, high quality food, flood protection and access provides the best case for securing ongoing support and funding for the Lake District and its landscapes and we see a shared purpose in this.

“Nature underpins all of this but it is not in universal good health. There is clear evidence that we are losing soils, wildlife has declined and our rivers are in a pattern of repeat flooding. We need to address this by collaborating with those who know the landscape inside out and manage it with us.” he added.

The Trust’s new working principles were developed in consultation with key stakeholders over a 10 month period. ‘Looking After the Lakes’ also gives examples of these principles in practice such as through the Wild Ennerdale Partnership and Fix the Fells and people can find out more online at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/thelakes

In 2015 the Trust published its national strategy in Playing our Part and earlier this year outlined its ambition to help restore the UK’s natural heritage. ‘Looking After the Lakes’ sets out what this means in the Lake District.

Richard Leafe, Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park Authority supports the Trust’s positive move to set out the challenges it faces and the ways in which it will respond. He said: “This is a clear message from the Trust and one that invites collaboration in managing this very special landscape, which, we hope, will be recognised as a World Heritage Site in July. The Trust is an active partner in the Lake District National Park Partnership and by working through the partnership we believe these principles will benefit not only future generations, but also nature, culture and farming right across the Lake District.”

For further information about the National Trust’s work in the Lake District, and its seven principles visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/thelakes and follow the story on social media using #lookingafterthelakes.

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