A “visionary” new environmental project in the Yorkshire Dales has been billed as a “blueprint” for landscape restoration ahead of the Cop26 climate summit later this year.
The partnership behind Wild Ingleborough says the scheme covering an initial 1,200 hectares around the second highest peak in the national park will be one of the first examples in England of re-establishing the natural tree line.
It said the project will see the restoration of peatlands and the expansion of native woodland and scrub which will remove and store carbon, helping to combat climate change.
Over the next 12 months, the project will create around 40 hectares of new native woodland through the planting of 30,000 trees and also through natural regeneration.
Wild Ingleborough is a partnership between WWF, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the University of Leeds, the United Bank of Carbon and The Woodland Trust.
WWF said the “visionary” project offers an “alternative future” for the UK’s uplands.
Chief executive Tanya Steele said: “Climate change and nature loss are two sides of the same coin; it’s vital that any efforts to safeguard our future and stabilise our climate have nature at their heart.
“The UK, as hosts of Cop26, can lead efforts to boost nature’s recovery, including transforming the way we use our land – with Wild Ingleborough a blueprint for restoration.”
The project will cover an area from the River Ribble towards the summit of Ingleborough.
Wild Ingleborough has already overhauled 300 hectares of land occupied largely by limestone pavement and heavily grazed pasture, with 3,000 native trees planted and swathes of drystone wall rebuilt, WWF said.
The project aims to restore another 900 hectares.
In time, it is hoped the scheme will provide a haven for fauna and animal species, such as black grouse, red squirrel, and curlew – of which there are only four in the project area.
The partnership said the project also intends to help reduce the risk of flooding and encourage local collaboration by bringing landowners, farmers and communities together.
Rachael Bice, chief executive at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Ingleborough is one of the most iconic and cherished landscapes in our great county. The opportunity to support nature to flourish here is something we are incredibly proud to be involved in.
“By intervening carefully, we will see the landscape of the Dales transform; restoring natural processes and communities of plants and animals, which will help to secure and enrich the future of Yorkshire’s residents and visitors too.”