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Upper Nidderdale farm joins future of farming vision

A farm in Upper Nidderdale is the latest to join Yorkshire Water’s ‘Beyond Nature’ vision which will transform how farms in the future connect with the land, water and wildlife around them. 

The huge 970-hectare upland farm, known as High Woodale, is owned by Yorkshire Water but managed by experienced farmer, Martyn Brown.

As part of the ‘Beyond Nature’ vision, the farm will not only continue to focus on traditional livestock practises that involve looking after 800 breeding ewes, but also widen its scope to become a more sustainable farm for the future.

This will mean restoring vitally important peatland bog on the farm which helps lock carbon dioxide in the land thereby helping to reduce the risks of global warming. 

Across England, peatland stores over three billion tonnes of carbon in the ground which is more than all woodlands and forests combined.

There will also be a focus on rush management to create a sympathetic habitat to attract more breeding wader bird species and reinstate two traditional hay meadows that will allow cattle to be introduced to graze it.

Lisa Harrowsmith, a Lead Surveyor at Yorkshire Water, said: “As the second largest landowner in Yorkshire, we own a lot of farm and moorland and the Beyond Nature management plan is designed to strengthen the sustainability credentials of our land and make it more in tune with nature. 
“High Woodale farm is the latest to support this new vision of how farming can evolve by focusing on land optimisation that considers not just livestock grazing, but how it connects with the wider natural environment such as water, wildlife and habitats.”

Situated in the stunning high moorlands surrounding Angram and Scar House reservoirs, High Woodale farm plays a vital role in helping to protect drinking water quality supplied to the city of Bradford. 

By having more peatland, and specifically sphagnum moss, this will improve the quality of water collected on the moorland by reducing soil erosion, which can discolour the raw water collected in both reservoirs and requires expensive treatment to remove.

Farmer Martyn Brown who has managed the farm since 2002 said: We will continue to work hard up at High Woodall to improve as much of the land and wildlife habitat as we can. This I feel is vitally important as generations of farmers before have proved that, if you maintain and care for your land and wildlife, in turn they will look after you.

“Looking forward we wish to continue to improve the facilities to enable the public to enjoy the stunning landscapes and beautiful wildlife in its natural environment.”

As part of the Beyond Nature vision, the cultural heritage of the area which has several archaeological remains from the lost medieval hamlet of Lodge, will also be protected by working closely with the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership.

High Woodale farm joins Humberstone Bank Farm in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in becoming a Beyond Nature farm and there are plans for other farms in Yorkshire to adopt this new management strategy in the coming years.

The spectacular High Woodale Farm

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