In 2010, after the Yorkshire Dales National Park completed its first 10-year Biodiversity Action Plan called Nature In The Dales, work continued on projects such as:
Caves are important mating and hibernation sites for many temperate bat species and critical to their continued survival. Yorkshire Dales National Park has more caves and kilometres of cave passage than anywhere else in the UK yet, prior to this project, virtually nothing was known about their importance to bats. The aims of the project were to:
More than 60 caves were surveyed. It was found that bats make use of the majority of these, but sometimes in small numbers.
Many of the larger caves are important sites, each attracting thousands of bats in the autumn from summer roosts far beyond the boundaries of the national park. The survey helped explain what makes a cave suitable for bats and how caves fit into the bats’ life cycles.
The team wrote a 'cavers' conservation code', promoted the project through locally and nationally, wrote articles for wildlife and caving magazines and published in international scientific journals. The project featured on BBC television and radio, including a live, underground transmission for Autumnwatch.
Mixed grazing with sheep and upland cattle helped create the wonderful diversity of plants and wildlife in the limestone country of the Yorkshire Dales.
This has declined in the last 50 years due to a move towards more specialised sheep farming, resulting in the loss of species and structural diversity. The aim of the project was to restore diversity on more than 1,500ha of habitat by encouraging farmers to return to mixed livestock farming.
The UK's native red squirrel population is in danger of disappearing from our countryside altogether. The main threat comes from the introduced grey squirrel. As well as competing for a limited food supply, greys carry the squirrelpox virus which is fatal to reds.
To find out about the distribution of red squirrels in the national park, to ensure suitable woodlands were being managed appropriately, to raise awareness of the conservation requirements of reds - and to control greys.
Sightings from a number of sources and hair-tube surveys by Dales Volunteers have shown that the Cumbrian population of red squirrels has spread into North Yorkshire.
Following the 2005 North of England Red Squirrel Conservation Strategy, 17 reserves have been established where positive woodland management is carried out. These include national park reserves at:
Also, to raise awareness about the species, a viewpoint has been created at Snaizeholme on a self-guided walk from Hawes in Wensleydale.
Over the last 60 years the number and quality of meadows in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has declined dramatically. Although funding for meadow restoration work was available through agri-environment schemes, a lack of specialist machinery, trained contractors and staff to co-ordinate schemes has prevented much work from being undertaken.
To enhance and restore at least 200ha of upland and lowland meadows within, and close to, the national park.
This meant introducing seed to traditionally-managed meadows and to meadows which have declined in quality but which still have some botanical interest.
The white-clawed crayfish is the UK’s only freshwater native crayfish. North West England is one of the last strongholds of this rapidly declining species. The introduction of the North American signal crayfish into British waters, and the crayfish plague that it carries, is the main cause of decline.
Specially designed ‘conservation weirs’ have been effective in limiting the downstream movement of white-clawed crayfish into the plague-infected zone. Continued monitoring is assessing whether crayfish plague has been eradicated.
A captive breeding facility – the most successful in the UK - has been established in Ribblesdale. Three generations have been raised, isolated from non native crayfish and crayfish plague.
Trial educational work about the problem has been carried out in the Malham Tarn field studies centre and in schools. A public aquarium has been set up and the project has also featured on the BBC's Countryfile.