National Character Area 34

Bowland Fells - Detailed Statements of Environmental Opportunity

This section expands on the Headline Statements of Environmental Opportunity and provides further detail on each of the Statements of Environmental Opportunity.


SEO 1: Safeguard, manage and enhance the large areas of open, expansive blanket bog and wet-heath habitats and the important species they support, to ensure a strong network of habitats as well as for the benefits this brings to climate regulation, water quality and availability.

For example by:

  • Seeking opportunities to restore, expand and improve ecological links between upland habitats to improve the condition of the vegetation and achieve a strong, resilient ecological network.
  • Enhancing the full range of fell habitats to ensure that they support the important assemblages of bird species, allowing population sizes to be maintained and where possible increased, including the area’s iconic bird of prey, the hen harrier, which breeds in very few other places in the country.
  • Maintaining and where necessary restoring degraded areas of blanket bog to active sphagnum-dominated bog, to promote peat formation and carbon sequestration and to prevent erosion and oxidation.
  • Seeking opportunities to retain water or manage run-off by re-wetting to bring blanket bog back into favourable ecological and hydrological condition; and improving downstream water quality.
  • Maintaining and where necessary restoring degraded heathland communities to dwarf shrub communities; achieving sustainable grazing regimes to avoid poaching of soils and to aid water infiltration; and ensuring that burning and cutting programmes promote structural and biological diversity, as well as avoiding loss of peaty soils through erosion or oxidation.
  • Seeking opportunities to ensure that commercial forestry operations do not damage sensitive peatland systems and other Quaternary landforms and deposits.
  • Ensuring that archaeological sites, and the potential for them, are considered as an integral part of these habitats.


SEO 2: Manage and enhance the landscape character and biodiversity of the moorland fringes, with their mosaic of pastures and meadows and their strong field patterns defined by drystone walls and hedgerow, to improve ecological networks and strengthen landscape character.

For example by:

  • Establishing and maintaining connectivity between habitats by protecting land in between pockets of habitat from intensification and maintaining the ability of species to move through the landscape.
  • Protecting, expanding and linking areas for wildlife within and between the areas of highest biodiversity resource, including statutory and local wildlife sites.
  • Conserving, enhancing and creating species-rich in-bye pastures and hay meadows on the moorland fringe (particularly the limestone areas to the east), which provide important small-scale landscape interest and habitats for wildlife.
  • Conserving, maintaining and restoring the area’s valued and distinctive hedgerows and stone walls, respecting differences in local styles.
  • Promoting the maintenance and restoration of traditional farm buildings, where appropriate using local stone and vernacular building styles.
  • Maintaining the field pattern of in-bye land, with its network of drystone walls and hedges, retaining local differences in the style of boundary features.


SEO 3: Manage and enhance the watercourses and catchments for nature conservation, public enjoyment, recreation, water supply and flood management

For example by:

  • Promoting the management of nutrient inputs to farmland, targeting applications to maximise uptake and minimise run-off.
  • Managing fells, river banks, flood plains and wetlands for a robust vegetation cover that reduces soil erosion and water run-off, through appropriate grazing regimes.
  • Restoring blanket bog and other wetlands through extensive grazing and re-wetting (including grip blocking), to ensure resilience to climate change.
  • Seeking opportunities for sustainable river management that works with natural processes and allows space for rivers within connected flood plains, to increase resilience to extreme weather events while enhancing water quality, biodiversity and recreation and mitigating downstream flood risk.
  • Ensuring that future development and land use planning is sustainable in terms of impacts on water quality, water resources and flood risk.
  • Encouraging appropriate access for the public enjoyment of recreational activities, and promoting an understanding of both the importance of water to the fabric of the NCA and the need for its sustainable management.


SEO 4: Increase the significance of woodland and trees, and manage existing tree cover to provide a range of benefits, including helping to assimilate new infrastructure, restore lost habitats and landscape features, store carbon, reduce soil erosion, enhance water quality and provide timber, fuel and recreational opportunities.

For example by:

  • Exploring opportunities to modify the overall structure of conifer plantations to create softer outlines, a more organic shape that responds to topography, and a higher broadleaved content.
  • Exploring opportunities to plant new native woodlands on the lower hills and moorland fringes without compromising the area’s character; ensuring that woodland expansion avoids bodies of deep peat and avoids impacting on other sites of biodiversity value; and ensuring that new woodlands enhance the local landscape character in terms of typical scale, type and location and avoid impacting on features of historic interest.
  • Supporting the natural regeneration and appropriate planting of new small-scale native woodlands, the expansion of existing woodlands (particularly small areas of ancient, semi-natural woodland) and the planting of non-woodland trees, especially within moorland cloughs and river valleys.
  • Exploring opportunities to get existing woodland into management for local woodland products and wood fuel supplies.
  • Conserving, restoring and enhancing existing woodland boundary walls, banks and hedges, giving priority to those that are important for stock control, landscape value and habitat.
  • Stockproofing the area’s important clough woodlands and encouraging natural regeneration and linking of existing sites.
  • Expanding the potential for plantation-type forestry to be managed to accommodate recreational interests, including improvements to the rights of way network, to allow public participation, understanding and enjoyment of the natural environment.


SEO 5: Manage the development of and support sustainable tourism to minimise its impact on the cultural heritage, landscape character and tranquillity of the area, and increase opportunities for visitor engagement, enjoyment and understanding of the natural environment.

For example by:

  • Maintaining the tranquil and wild character of the uplands and upland fringes through protection from encroachment by commercial forestry and avoiding visual intrusion by large-scale developments.
  • Controlling development within the surrounding landscape to retain the openness of the upland landscape and uninterrupted views.
  • Managing development within the built environment and encouraging sensitive restoration of existing buildings to maintain historic features and the distinctive character of the area’s settlements.
  • Protecting and maintaining traditional farm buildings and visible archaeological features, which are key elements of the landscape.
  • Supporting high-quality management of, and access to, open access land and other accessible countryside, to provide a quality visitor experience and greater public enjoyment.
  • Managing visitor pressure sensitively, to avoid damage to soils, habitats and species; to maintain tranquillity by promoting alternative destinations; and to provide enhanced opportunities for visitors to reconnect with nature.
  • Recognising the value to the local economy that visitors to the NCA bring, and working with commerce to support initiatives to promote sustainable tourism and grow a local green economy.

Additional opportunity 1

Additional opportunity 1: Protect the strong relationship between the landscape and the underlying geology, the land use it supports and its significance to the cultural identity of the area.

For example by:

  • Maintaining key views of landform and geological features and using semi-natural land cover to enhance and support biodiversity without obscuring landform features.
  • Keeping important geological exposures such as quarry faces, cuttings, outcrops and stream sections visible and, where appropriate, accessible.
  • Providing opportunities for interpretation of the landscape, its features and its rich history and heritage, for the understanding and enjoyment of all.