Julian learns about managing Yorkshire’s uplands for public benefit
April 9, 2018
Last month Julian met with environmental groups, land managers and Richmond MP Rishi Sunak in Bishopdale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park to discuss how the region’s upland areas can be managed to provide environmental benefits, like natural flood defences and measures to combat the impacts of climate change.
The government has proposed that current public funding that supports agriculture under the terms of the EU Common Agricultural Policy be reformed post-Brexit, so that public money is provided in exchange for land management practices that provide public benefits. This meeting was therefore a timely opportunity to examine how this could work in practice, both maintaining the region’s traditional landscapes and supporting the local economy.
Julian spoke to representatives of the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, the National Park Authority, and the University of Leeds, also visiting Howesyke Farm to view some physical demonstrations of flood prevention techniques, and visit a peat restoration project.
Attendees inspected practical examples of natural flood management techniques, including tree planting, the expansion of which could make a significant contribution to managing York’s flood risk. Julian was also particularly impressed by the potential of peat restoration to both preserve the landscape and absorb carbon emissions, improving local air quality and reducing the effects of climate change. UK peatlands have a similar capacity to absorb carbon as the Amazon rainforest, and each year soak up more carbon than all of the world’s oceans combined.
After the meeting, Julian said: “It was really encouraging to hear about how our county’s upland areas can be managed to deliver important public benefits. Managing the land so as to reduce flood risk and capture carbon can provided real benefits to our city, and I will certainly be pushing these ideas at Westminster, including in my role as a member of Parliament’s Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
I was especially enthused by the opportunities for using Yorkshire peatlands to tackle climate change. Currently, may British businesses offset their carbon funding by funding tree planting, often in faraway places. The massive contribution peatlands make as a carbon sink demonstrates the potential for businesses to instead invest at home in our peatlands, which could channel more funds into preserving North Yorkshire landscapes while also improving our local environment overall”.