followed by enclosure ……. Dry stone walls are an essential and much admired feature of the Yorkshire Dales landscape
Dry stone walls are a classic characteristic of the Dales landscape. They provide 7,500 km of field boundary. The National Park Authority undertook a sampling survey in 1991 which showed that 30 per cent of dry stone field boundary walling in the National Park was suffering severe neglect. The National Park Authority operates conservation schemes that extend to walls. The Barns and Walls Conservation Scheme has paid 80 per cent grant to support work on 10 per cent of established walling need in some areas of the National Park. Other schemes also include grants for walling: The Environmentally Sensitive Area Scheme provides a grant of £14 per metre for walling on some 28,000 ha of land within the National Park whilst the Countryside Stewardship Scheme offers grants at £12 per metre.
The defining characteristic of the Yorkshire Dales for many, is the intricate pattern of stone walls and field barns that leave no part of the valley floors and sides untouched. These are the legacy of upland hill farming which has formed a unique historic landscape. The barns were built in hay meadows , to house the annual crop. Cattle were then kept in the byre end of the barns over the winter months and fed on the hay, their manure being used to fertilise the hay-meadow to ensure a good crop the next year. And so the cycle continued year after year. This proved a more efficient way of farming than centralising it at the farmstead. A farm may have had up to ten barns in the fields and many farmers can still remember having to go to each twice daily to water the cows. The majority of the field barns were built between 1750 and 1850, although they continued to be built through the first decades of this century. A conservative guess of the number of field barns in the Yorkshire Dales must exceed 6,000 .
Valley floor meadow in summer High biodiversity
Pressures on farming in the Dales National and EU Policies (CAP) Tourism CROW Act (60% of YDNP is now access land) Declining livestock prices 30% of YDNP designated for environmental reasons Overhead costs increasing Intensification – more large farms, increased use of chemicals, removal of field boundaries Increase in part-time and seasonal farm work Outmigration of young people
Farming in the Dales owes much to national and international policy makers
Maintain conservation interests of the hay meadows
Maintain the conservation interest of the pastures
Maintain and enhance the landscape
Maintain traditional field boundaries and farm buildings
Protect historical features
In return farmers are not allowed to..
Plough, reseed or drain land
Apply certain fertilisers, pesticides etc.
Graze animals on meadows after May
Overstock their land
Maintain walls using non traditional methods.
Cut hay on the meadows before mid August
Aim to ……. Farmers are paid subsidies for land they have entered into the scheme e.g £250 per hectare of meadow, £20 per metre of wall N.B. Since 2005, there are no ‘new’ grants being given under ESA schemes. Existing agreements still operate.
And for land outwith ESAs…….. N.B . Since 2005, there are no ‘new’ grants being given under Countryside Stewardship schemes. However, existing agreements still operate.
… . from spring 2005 Environmental Stewardship has a number of wide ranging objectives, which include:- Protection of water and soil Prevention of erosion and water pollution Flood management Wildlife conservation Protect archaeological sites and historic features Provide public access to the countryside Conserve rare traditional livestock breeds and varieties Environmental Stewardship is a new agri-environment scheme which provides funding to farmers and other land managers in England who deliver effective environmental management on their land. The scheme is intended to build on the recognised success of the Environmentally Sensitive Areas and Countryside Stewardship Schemes
The English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) is the Forestry Commission's suite of grants designed to develop the co-ordinated delivery of public benefits from England's woodlands. Some farmers in the Dales get grant subsidies from the scheme.
Over the last 50 years, a move to specialised sheep farming and a decline in cattle farming has led to the growth of rank grasses and a loss of species and structural diversity. The Limestone Country Project aims to restore this diversity on over 1500 hectares of habitat by encouraging farmers to return to mixed farming using traditional breeds of cattle such as Blue Greys and Belted Galloways that can survive the harsh winters living off the rough grasses and do not graze so intensively as sheep. http://www.limestone-country.org.uk
Other responses to change……… As well as supplementing farmers’ income through conservation grant schemes, the agricultural economy of the Dales is maintained in a number of other ways. Diversification Speciality products e.g. Dales lamb and beef and local cheese