News: December 2023

Christmas winter image by Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

AONBs renamed National Landscapes; COP 28: what was agreed?; CPRE report on the impact of the housing crisis on rural communities; Emojis: call for more fungi and plants to be represented; Funding for wildlife ponds in North Yorkshire; New native woodland being planted in Yorkshire Dales; New National Park planned for England; Proposal to build England’s largest onshore wind farm on peat bog; RSPB report: Two-thirds of confirmed illegal killings of birds of prey last year linked to shooting estates; Tree planting season 2023-2024

AONBs renamed National Landscapes

From 22 November 2023,  the 46 Areas of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) have been renamed as National Landscapes. The new name reflects the national importance of these areas and the contribution they make to resolving issues such as climate change, nature depletion and the well-being crisis.   

By 2030, within their boundaries, National Landscapes’ aims are that: at least 200,000 hectares of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) will be in favourable condition; 100,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat outside of SSSIs will be created or restored and 36,000 hectares of woodland will have been planted or allowed to regenerate. 66% of people in England live within 30 minutes of a National Landscape and at least 170m people visit them every year.
Source: National Landscapes Association

COP28: what was agreed?

Check out a BBC article summarising what was agreed at COP28, the 28th United Nations climate meeting in Dubai.

For the first time, countries agreed on the need to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems”. It was agreed that this would be done “in a just, orderly and equitable manner” with the expectation that richer countries will move away from coal, oil and gas more quickly. The deal doesn’t, however, compel countries to take action and no timetable has been set.

The agreement includes global targets to triple the capacity of renewable energy like wind and solar power, double the rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030 and accelerate use of low/zero emission technologies like carbon capture and storage.

Time will tell whether COP 28 will make a difference. It has been hailed both as a historic agreement for addressing the need to transition away from fossil fuels and “weak and ineffective” and full of loopholes  Many groups, including the US, UK, EU and some nations most vulnerable to climate change, had wanted a more ambitious commitment to “phase out” fossil fuels. Plenty of coverage in the newspapers including the Guardian: Good Cop, bad Cop….

CPRE report on the impact of the housing crisis on rural communities

The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has published a report identifying the impact that a shortage of affordable housing has on rural communities. You can find the full report: Unraveling a crisis: the state of rural affordable housing in England on the CPRE website. In this report, CPRE, the countryside charity, aims to increase understanding of the issues surrounding the supply of rural affordable housing, and identify what actually constitutes ‘affordable’ housing and what policies are currently in place to support affordable housing delivery. The CPRE  also makes a number of recommendations that it believes could resolve the crisis.

Emojis: call for more fungi and plants to be represented

Biologists from the University of Milan have called for a greater number of emojis to represent plants and fungi. In research published in Iscience, they argue that as emojis now form such a key part of our modern use of text language, a more varied number to choose from could help conversations around biodiversity and conservation. A review of ‘Emojipedia’ used by phone apps revealed that while there are 92 animal emojis, there are only 16 showing plants, and only one each for fungus and microorganisms.

Source: BBC

Funding for wildlife ponds in North Yorkshire

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are looking for sites to create or restore  wildlife ponds to strengthen or expand Great Crested Newt populations. The funding is available to landowners and farmers who can offer sites which meet certain criteria.  Information on the scheme can be found on the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust website.

New National Park planned for England

BBC article on plans for the creation of a new National Park in England as part of the Government’s nature pledges. Existing National Park Authorities (NPAs) welcome the news but stress that the funding for the new park must be new money. While the government is also providing a £15m fund for protected landscapes, the NPAs argue that what they need is more money for running costs, as most parks have experienced funding cuts.

Thirty-four new landscape recovery projects will also be created under the ELMs farm payments scheme which will see 200,000 hectares of land managed to benefit nature and sustainable food production.

New native woodland being planted in Yorkshire Dales

There is a Richmondshire Today article about plans by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to plant 43 hectares of new native woodland across 12 sites in the Dales. The planting, funded by the Government’s Grow Back Greener scheme, will be part of the new Northern Forest. Other members of the Dales Woodland Forum have also announced plans for a further 500 hectares meaning that the Forum will meet its collective target of 600 hectares per annum.  The Heggs Castle Cluster was planted as part of the first season of the Grow Back Greener scheme.

RSPB report: Two-thirds of confirmed illegal killings of birds of prey last year linked to shooting estates

Channel 4 news item on the latest RSPB survey on bird crime which reports that two-thirds of confirmed illegal killings of birds of prey are linked to shooting estates. Channel 4 named the area around Gunnerside as the worst hot spot in the UK for the persecution of hen harriers. The RSPB Bird Crime Report 2022 is available on the RSPB website. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Chief Executive has said “It is yet again hugely embarrassing that this part of the country has been shamed as being the worst for proven and suspected bird of prey persecution in the UK” in a YDNPA press release. David Butterworth has also said that it is all the more galling given that there has been progress in the Dales.

Tree planting season 2023/2034

Sustainable Swaledale started its third community tree planting season in late November with tasks before and after Christmas through to February 2024. Two sites have had stretches of new hedging planted using a new type of protection, as seedlings planted last year with spirals appear to have suffered from being confined during the warm temperatures. It is hoped that the new wrap-around covers will allow more ventilation. We are also clearing an existing woodland of redundant tree guards in Arkengarthdale.

A number of volunteers took part in hedge laying training sessions in November and we will tackle some more hedge laying along Low Lane in the New Year.  We are grateful to Tees-Swale: naturally connected for both funding the planting season and purchasing some tools for hedge laying.

In 2024, we will be planting some further hedges and trees and having another go at hedge laying. The dates are as follows:
Tue 16th January (hedge planting); Sun 21st January (tree and hedge planting); Mon 29th January (hedge laying); Sat 3rd February (hedge planting) and Thu 8th February (hedge planting)

The spreadsheet for signing up has been circulated on our email lists. If you would like to sign up for tasks, please contact us at

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Core Group Meeting

We will not be meeting in January so the next meeting will take place at the Two Dales Bakery on 1 February 2024 at  7.00pm. Please  get in touch if you’d like to join us on Zoom.

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