National Character Area 34

Bowland Fells - Summary and Headline Statements of Environmental Opportunity


The Bowland Fells form a distinctive upland block on the boundary between north Lancashire and the Yorkshire Dales. The landscape is wild and windswept, with steep escarpments, upland pasture and expansive open moorland. The National Character Area is within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and also contains areas of moorland, designated as a Special Protection Area due to its international importance for breeding hen harrier, merlin and lesser black-backed gull. It also provides for other important species such as peregrine, ring ouzel and breeding waders. The peat soils of the fells, including the deep columns of peat associated with blanket bog, store significant volumes of carbon. Blanket bog habitat is also important for water storage. High-quality species-rich meadows can be found in the limestone areas to the east. There are also a large number of important waterbodies throughout the area. Extensive conifer plantations occur to the south-east and east of the area, with fragmented broadleaved woodland largely in the cloughs.

Current and future challenges for the area include managing moorland to mediate against downstream flooding in the catchments originating in the Fells, managing the increasing pressure on water resources, achieving longterm improvement in habitat condition and connectivity, increasing carbon stores in soil/vegetation, strengthening landscape resilience and adaptation to climate change and managing increased tourism and recreational demand while promoting the positive benefits.

Headline Statements of Environmental Opportunity (SEO)

See the Statements of Environmental Opportunity section for more details on the headlines listed below.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.