National Character Area 25

North Yorkshire Moors and Cleveland - Analysis: Ecosystem Services

Analysis supporting Statements of Environmental Opportunity

The following analysis section focuses on a selection of the key provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem goods and services for this NCA. These are underpinned by supporting services such as photosynthesis, nutrient cycling, soil formation and evapo-transpiration. Supporting services perform an essential role in ensuring the availability of all ecosystem services.

Bodiversity and geodiversity are crucial in supporting the full range of ecosystem services provided by this landscape. Wildlife and geologically-rich landscapes are also of cultural value and are included in this section of the analysis. This analysis shows the projected impact of Statements of Environmental Opportunity on the value of nominated ecosystem services within this landscape.

Further analysis on landscape attributes and opportunities for this NCA is contained in the Analysis: Landscape Attributes & Opportunities section.

Natural Capital

Further information on Natural Capital within this NCA is contained in the Natural Capital and Key Ecosystem Services section.

The North York Moors and Cleveland Hills National Character Area (NCA) provides a wide range of benefits to society. Each is derived from the attributes and processes (both natural and cultural features) within the area. These benefits are realised through the ‘ecosystem services’ that flow from the ‘ecosystem assets’ or ‘natural capital’ of a place.

Natural capital means ‘the elements of nature that directly or indirectly produce value to people, including ecosystems, species, freshwater, land, minerals, the air and oceans, as well as natural processes and functions’ (Natural Capital Committee, 2017).

Ecosystem Services Main Beneficiaries

The below map displays the main beneficiaries of each ecosystem service identified within this NCA and neighbouring NCAs. These range from being of international importance to local importance. Some services have not been assessed within all NCAs, and therefore in some NCAs are displayed as “N/A” (not applicable).

 

Main Beneficiaries Map

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Ecosystem service analysis

The following sections show the analysis used to determine key Ecosystem Service opportunities within the area. These opportunities have been combined with the analysis of landscape opportunities to create Statements of Environmental Opportunity. Please note that the following analysis is based upon available data and current understanding of ecosystem services. It does not represent a comprehensive local assessment. Quality and quantity of data for each service is variable locally and many of the services listed are not yet fully researched or understood. Therefore analysis and opportunities may change upon publication of further evidence and better understanding of the inter-relationship between services at a local level.

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated.

Provisioning Services

Food provision

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Semi-natural vegetation
  • Farming practice
  • Traditional and rare breeds of domestic stock

State – The area is a major producer of lamb, beef and dairy products as well as some crops (particularly cereal crops in the south and east on the limestone slopes and in coastal areas) and other products such as honey.

Main beneficiary – Regional

Analysis – Livestock farming remains the predominant farm type, with cereals and dairy also important. Reduction in hill sheep numbers over recent years has resulted in localised undergrazing. Factors such as grazing management and crop choice will largely determine the extent to which other services are delivered alongside food provision.

Opportunities – Opportunity for continued provision of high quality produce in the form of lamb, mutton, beef, dairy products, cereals, honey, fish and shellfish, thereby maintaining associated cultural landscapes and species associated with these landscapes. There are some opportunities for local increases in hill livestock numbers to improve the diversity of moorland habitats. The development of local and specialist markets is of importance.

Food security is likely to be increasingly important, and it is crucial that increased/enhanced food production from the NCA is done in a sustainable way which does not undermine or deplete the resources it depends upon. Aim to produce food in ways that optimise productivity while increasing the resilience of habitats and species to climate change and minimising carbon emissions (Climate Change Plan for Yorkshire and Humber, Yorkshire and Humber Climate Change Partnership, 2009).

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Food provision
  • Water availability
  • Genetic diversity
  • Climate regulation
  • Regulating soil erosion
  • Regulating soil quality
  • Regulating water quality
  • Sense of place/inspiration

Timber provision

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • High provision of woodland cover

State – 21 per cent of the NCA is woodland. There are extensive conifer plantations in the south east of the NCA and on the Tabular Hills. These conifer plantations provide a source of timber. Although there are local sawmills, much of the timber is processed outside Yorkshire.

Main beneficiary – Regional

Analysis – There are substantial areas of plantation forestry on ancient woodland sites. There is capacity to extend cover of native woodland in appropriate locations and to continue or reinstate traditional forms of woodland management.

Opportunities – There is an opportunity to increase woodland cover without detriment to protection of other attributes/services, and indeed could have positive benefit to some other services such as regulating climate, flooding and soil erosion, and to biodiversity.

Improve management of existing woodland resource to extract useful timber and perpetuate traditional management practices, for example coppicing, while also increasing carbon sequestration and improving wildlife value.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Timber provision
  • Biomass energy
  • Water availability
  • Climate regulation
  • Regulating soil erosion
  • Regulating soil quality
  • Regulating water quality
  • Sense of place/inspiration
  • Recreation
  • Biodiversity

Water availability

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Corallian Limestone major aquifer
  • Rivers
  • Reservoirs

State – Much of the NCA overlays the Corallian Limestone major aquifer, which gains significant quantities of water from the rivers Rye and Derwent through swallow holes (Derwent Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy, Environment Agency, 2006). Due to the complex interaction between the aquifer and the surface water, an accurate assessment has not yet been undertaken of groundwater availability (Derwent Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy, Environment Agency, 2006). However the River Derwent is an important source of drinking water supply. The major rivers are the Rye, Derwent and Esk, all of which arise in the NCA uplands. There are also numerous tributaries of these, draining to the south and to the east into the North Sea.

Reservoirs in the NCA include the Scaling Dam (42 ha) and Lockwood Beck in the north, both owned by Northumbrian Water Limited, and Cod Beck Reservoir (10 ha) in the west, owned by Yorkshire Water.

Main beneficiary – Regional

Analysis – Overall there is ‘no water available’ from rivers in this NCA: the rivers Rye and Esk have ‘no water available’ and the River Derwent is ‘over-licensed/over-abstracted (Derwent Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy, Environment Agency, 2006), (Esk and Coast Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy, Environment Agency, 2007). Climate change may impact adversely on water availability.

Opportunities – Restore peat soils on moorland plateaux and lowland wetlands to improve water storage capacity while also reducing flooding risk and soil erosion and improving water quality, climate regulation, habitat networks and ecosystem resilience to climate change.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Water availability
  • Climate regulation
  • Regulating soil erosion
  • Regulating water quality
  • Regulating water flow
  • Sense of place/inspiration
  • Biodiversity

Genetic diversity

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Pedigree rare breed cattle
  • Semi-natural habitats

State – There are a number of farmers in the area who breed pedigree cattle breeds at risk, notably beef shorthorn, belted Galloway and highland cattle.

Main beneficiary – Regional

Analysis – Rearing rare breed livestock not only helps to conserve the native genetic resource: they are often required in conservation grazing to restore semi-natural habitats, and offer opportunities to market quality niche food products.

Opportunities – Support sustainable farming of rare breed livestock and enhance management of semi-natural habitats through maintaining and where appropriate increasing stock numbers within extensive grazing systems; develop local markets for rare breed food products.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Genetic diversity
  • Food provision
  • Climate regulation
  • Regulating soil erosion
  • Regulating soil quality
  • Regulating water flow
  • Sense of place/inspiration
  • Biodiversity

Biomass energy

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • High provision of woodland cover

State – The high existing woodland cover in this NCA (around 21 per cent) offers significant potential for the provision of biomass through bringing unmanaged woodland under management and as a byproduct of commercial forestry management.

Main beneficiary – Regional

Analysis – There is significant variation in potential yield for short rotation coppice throughout the NCA: with low potential yield on the high elevated moors, for example Westerdale and Glaisdale Moors, high potential yield around these moors along the river valleys; and low potential yield on the southern and north eastern fringe of the NCA. For information on the potential landscape impacts of biomass plantings within the NCA, refer to the tables on the Natural England website (Area 25, Natural England, 2022).

Opportunities – Increase sustainable production and use of wood and other biomass as a source of renewable energy, subject to landscape constraints and sustainable water use (Yorkshire and Humber Vision for Biomass 2008; Strategic Framework for Trees, Woods and People in the Yorkshire and Humber Region, 2005).

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Biomass energy
  • Timber provision
  • Water availability
  • Climate regulation

Regulating Services

Climate regulation

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Soils with high carbon content
  • High proportion of woodland cover
  • Wetland habitats

State – The upland soils in this NCA generally have a relatively high carbon content of 10 to 20 per cent, with significant carbon storage provided by the moorland habitats. Climate regulation is also offered by woodland and wetlands – blanket bog, reedbeds, coastal and flood plain grazing marsh, fens, mudflats and saline lagoons along the coast.

Main beneficiary – National

Analysis – Management of soils and vegetation to increase carbon storage and therefore mitigate climate change impacts, can also be beneficial in climate change adaptation where ecological networks are restored, and assist with regulation of soil erosion and soil quality, water quality and flood regulation.

Opportunities – Restore peatland areas through measures such as gully blocking, re-vegetation and implementing sustainable burning practices to increase the species diversity, including bryophytes, and safeguard carbon storage of these habitats while enhancing the range of other key ecosystem services: reduce the rate of runoff and improve water quality by decreasing the release of dissolved organic carbon.

Reduce net greenhouse gas emissions through increased tree and woodland planting for carbon sequestration and improved management of existing trees and woodland.

Increase the amount of carbon stored in agricultural soils through appropriate management, for example through low grazing levels, soil aeration and minimum tillage agriculture.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Climate regulation
  • Regulating soil erosion
  • Regulating soil quality
  • Regulating water quality
  • Regulating water flow
  • Sense of place/inspiration
  • Biodiversity

Regulating coastal erosion and flooding

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Geology: supply of eroded material from coastal rock

State – Within the general area of the North York Moors, the coast is considered ‘resilient’ to erosion rates, however around Whitby and Scarborough highly variable erosion rates combined with underlying instability of coastal slope have caused significant landslips.

Main beneficiary – Regional

Analysis – Coastal defences at larger settlements such as Staithes, Runswick, Whitby and Scarborough are currently managed to ‘hold the line’; elsewhere the long term approach is generally for no active intervention, which allows for continued supply of eroded material going into coastal sediment circulation. The development of beaches and intertidal areas helps to attenuate wave energy (The Seascape Character Area Assessment, East Inshore and Offshore Marine Plan, 2022).

Opportunities – In areas of soft cliff habitat, the creation of buffer zones between the cliffs and development allows the coast to erode and dynamic coastal processes to continue: seek to provide such a buffer to allow coastal processes to continue without detriment to new development.

Seek to relocate landwards priority coastal habitats which will be lost at eroding soft cliff.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Regulating coastal flooding and erosion
  • Geodiversity

Regulating water quality

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Geology: Corallian Limestone major aquifer and groundwater
  • Rivers
  • Soil types and vulnerability to erosion
  • Semi-natural habitat

State – For information regarding the current state of water quality within this NCA, refer to the Environment Agency (Draft river basin management plan maps).

Main beneficiary – Local

Analysis – The primary issue in the Yorkshire Derwent priority catchment is that of soil erosion and consequent sedimentation of rivers. In upland areas burning of vegetation on peat can cause oxidation and denaturing of peat, resulting in erosion and hence elevated levels of dissolved organic carbon in water, affecting water chemistry in the catchment.

Groundwater quality is affected by the direct and rapid pathway of river flow into the groundwater via the swallowholes. Similarly, surface water sources may be affected by the quality of runoff from the catchment upstream.

Opportunities – Protect water supplies through appropriate land management: securing sustainable burning management on peat; creating buffer strips; and increasing the area of permanent grassland, and appropriate tree and woodland planting. Manage recreational routes to minimise sedimentation through erosion.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Regulating water quality
  • Water availability
  • Climate regulation
  • Regulating soil erosion
  • Regulating soil quality
  • Regulating water flow
  • Biodiversity

Regulating water flow

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Rivers
  • Upland soil types – vulnerability to flooding
  • Semi-natural vegetation, capacity to improve infiltration or otherwise attenuate heavy rainfall

State – There is localised flood risk along river valleys, in particular along the River Esk, which affects the town of Whitby (Flood Map, Environment Agency, 2010). In the south of the NCA, particularly along the River Seven, fluvial flooding occurs as a result of prolonged heavy rainfall across the North York Moors or rain falling on melting snow across the catchment. The River Derwent and its upland tributaries tend to be of a flashy nature responding quickly to rainfall events. However the Sea Cut, a sluice at Mowthorpe which diverts water from the Derwent in flood conditions to the North Sea, has ‘dramatically reduced widespread flash flooding’ since its construction in the early 1800s (Derwent Catchment Flood Management Plan, Environment Agency, 2010). Scarborough is not significantly affected by fluvial flood risk; however there is localised flood risk associated with the minor Scalby Beck (in the north of Scarborough).

Main beneficiary – Regional

Analysis – Sensitive management of the upper catchment and creation of wetland to increase storage capacity downstream will increase the time that water is held on the land, and thus reduce the velocity and volume of floodwater in rivers as they flow through more populated areas.

Opportunities – Secure sustainable levels of burning and grazing management of moorlands to increase the species and structural diversity of the vegetation, thereby enhancing its capacity to retain water and impede water flow off the moors.

Reduce flood risk through woodland creation and carefully located tree planting.

Extend the areas of wetlands and restore former wetland zones to create greater water storage capacity and slow the flow during flooding events as well as aiding the spread and dispersal of wetland species.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Regulating water flow
  • Water availability
  • Climate regulation
  • Regulating soil erosion
  • Regulating soil quality
  • Regulating water quality
  • Biodiversity

Regulating soil quality

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Soil type
  • Farming practice

State – The sandstones and altitude of the highmoors produce poor soils (Grade 5) which support extensive heather moorland and rough grazing.

Grade 3 land occurs in the south, on the limestone, while Grade 4 occurs in the dales and valleys.

There are 9 main soilscape types in this NCA:

  • Slowly permeable wet very acid upland soils with a peaty surface, covering 19 per cent.
  • Slowly permeable seasonally wet slightly acid but base-rich loamy and clayey soils (16 per cent).
  • Slowly permeable seasonally wet acid loamy and clayey soils (13 per cent).
  • Freely draining slightly acid loamy soils (13 per cent).
  • Slightly acid loamy and clayey soils with impeded drainage (11 per cent).
  • Very acid loamy upland soils with a wet peaty surface (11 per cent).
  • Other soil types include shallow lime-rich soils over limestone, freely draining very acid sandy and loamy soils and blanket bog peat soils.

Main beneficiary – Local

Analysis – The slowly permeable wet very acid upland soils with a peaty surface, often found on moorland plateau tops, are at risk of loss of organic matter through climate change and soil erosion. Measures should be encouraged that retain water in situ and potentially raise water levels (water storage will also aid flood attenuation), ensure good vegetative cover and avoid over grazing/trampling or damage by mechanised activities. In the case of the very acid loamy upland soils with a wet peaty surface often found on steep slopes, the peat has low strength when wet and is easily damaged by grazing and trafficking for much of the year. Poaching of soil is common.

The slowly permeable seasonally wet slightly acid but base-rich loamy and clayey soils and the slowly permeable seasonally wet acid loamy and clayey soils may suffer compaction and/or capping as they are easily damaged when wet. In turn this may lead to increasingly poor water infiltration (and potential flooding) and diffuse pollution as a result of surface water runoff. Management measures that increase organic matter levels can help reduce these problems.

The slightly acid loamy and clayey soils with impeded drainage are easily poached by livestock and compacted by machinery when the soil is wet. Weak topsoil structures can easily be damaged. Careful timing of activities is required to reduce the likelihood of soil compaction.

The freely draining slightly acid loamy soils have potential for increased organic matter levels through management interventions. They may be valuable for recharge of the underlying Corallian Limestone aquifer, requiring the maintenance of good soil structure to aid water infiltration and the matching of nutrients to needs to prevent pollution of the underlying aquifer.

Opportunities – Secure sustainable grazing and cutting of in-bye and lowland grasslands in order to limit poaching and compaction and enhance soil structure and organic matter, improve infiltration and prevent channelling, runoff and flooding.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Regulating soil quality
  • Water availability
  • Climate regulation
  • Regulating soil erosion
  • Regulating water quality
  • Regulating water flow

Regulating soil erosion

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Soil type (vulnerability to erosion)
  • Semi-natural vegetation

State – The slowly permeable seasonally wet soils of this NCA (covering 29 per cent) are not generally susceptible to erosion but all the other soil types of this NCA are, with these erodible soils falling into three distinct groups.

The peaty plateau soils (the slowly permeable wet very acid upland soils with a peaty surface and the blanket bog peat soils covering 23 per cent when combined) are at risk of gullying/hagging and loss of particulate organic matter, where surface vegetation is damaged or lost and from surface run-off and can be affected by wind erosion where the soil is bare. The blanket bog soils are also vulnerable to occasional mass flow events and drainage of these soils (for example through gripping) may also result in increased oxidation of carbon and soil wastage.

The lighter soils, the freely draining slightly acid loamy soils, the freely draining very acid sandy and loamy soils, and the shallow lime-rich soils over limestone (28 per cent) are particularly at risk of erosion on sloping cultivated ground or where soils are left bare. Steep slopes will be at particular risk where there will be rapid run-off during storm events. In the case of the very acid loamy upland soils with a peaty surface, the combination of steep slopes, easily damaged peat layers and rapid run-off, result in a high erosion risk.

The slightly acid loamy and clayey soils with impeded drainage (11 per cent), are easily compacted by machinery or livestock if accessed when wet and are prone to capping/slaking, leading to
increased risk of soil erosion by surface water runoff, especially on steeper slopes.

Main beneficiary – Regional

Analysis – Key issues in the NCA include very high volumes of sediment runoff from agricultural land into the rivers Rye, Leven, Esk and Derwent, as a result of high rainfall combined with steep gradients and local soil types (Catchment Priorities, Defra, 2007).

In upland areas the degradation of peat based soils can be associated with a decrease in water quality within associated watercourses. Peatland habitats also need to be managed to protect the integrity of peat based soils and implement measures to reverse rates of peat loss.

Measures will be beneficial that retain water in situ, ensure good vegetative cover and avoid over grazing/ trampling or damage by mechanised activities.

Opportunities – Secure sustainable grazing and burning management of moorland in order to reduce erosion of peat soils and to allow development of vegetation which will hold water, reducing flood flow and erosion of downstream river banks, thereby also improving water quality and carbon sequestration and storage.

Secure sustainable grazing and cutting management of in-bye and lowland grasslands in order to maintain soil structure and organic matter, limit poaching and compaction, improve infiltration and prevent channelling, runoff and flooding.

Secure sustainable management of arable land (including use of appropriately placed buffer strips and permanent grassland, and uncropped land, tree planting and hedgerow restoration, avoiding crops associated with high erosion risk) in order to maintain soil structure and organic matter, limit compaction, improve infiltration prevent channelling, run-off and flooding and minimise wind-blow of soil in open areas.

Encourage fencing off and/or sustainable management of riparian areas, including buffer strips and/or tree planting, to limit bankside poaching and erosion while also improving water quality, limiting transmission of livestock diseases and increasing carbon sequestration.

Manage recreational pressure and minimise erosion of footpaths.

Plant native woodland on steeper bracken dominated land (where soil erosion often occurs in heavy rainfall events).

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Regulating soil erosion
  • Water availability
  • Climate regulation
  • Regulating soil quality
  • Regulating water quality
  • Regulating water flow
  • Sense of place/inspiration
  • Biodiversity

Pollination

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Semi-natural habitats

State – Heathlands, grassland and meadows cover 27 per cent of the NCA area, including 43,000 ha expanse of open heather moorland, and provide important nectar sources and habitats for pollinating insects and beneficial predator species.

Main beneficiary – Local

Analysis – Pollinators play a vital role in food provision, but research shows their numbers have declined sharply. Providing suitable nectar sources, at a landscape scale, and the habitat structure required for other stages of their life cycles, should help to address this.

Opportunities – Provide more feeding and breeding habitat for pollinators and beneficial predator species by maintaining, restoring and creating flower-rich habitats such as heather moorland, hay meadows, hedgerows, limestone grassland, arable flora and wild bird seed or nectar flower mixes on arable farms.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Pollination
  • Food provision
  • Climate regulation
  • Regulating soil erosion
  • Regulating water quality
  • Regulating water flow
  • Biodiversity

Pest regulation

No information available.

Cultural Services

Sense of place/inspiration

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Geology and landform: inland and coastal
  • Historic assets
  • Semi-natural habitats

State – The high moorland plateau supports the most extensive area of heather moorland in England and Wales. This is dissected by a series of dales that narrow to form intimate steep sided valleys. Roseberry Topping is a distinctive landmark in the outlying hills to the north. The sense of place is enhanced by the distinctive and dramatic coastal landscape, with its fossils and jet, contrasting with the arable farmland and parkland with veteran trees. This NCA has diversity and contrast: the western edge ‘big sky’ farmland of the limestone hills; intimate dales; forests and woodland; coast; open moorland.

The area is further characterised by the sparse nature of settlement, with towns and villages concentrated in the dales and around the moors fringes. The close proximity of the sea to the eastern parts of the high moorland and sheltered dales adds to the character. The later development of fishing villages tucked into bays has a different sense of place to that of the dales villages.

Main beneficiary – Regional

Analysis – This NCA has a strong and distinctive character which can be maintained and enhanced through careful management of the natural and built environment.

The NCA is valued for the sense of escapism it provides and as a source of inspiration for writers and artists.

Opportunities – Conserve the current built and natural environment through supporting environmentally sensitive farming practices, encouraging use of traditional building materials and techniques, maintaining/ restoring traditional field boundary networks and veteran trees, maintaining the mosaic of typical habitats and through appropriate siting of new development and in locations that do not obstruct views or damage archaeology. Within ancient semi natural woodlands, development of sporting infrastructure should be discouraged as this alters their character and experience.

Provide interpretation to aid understanding of the history and current use of the area.

Retain historic and iconic features within the landscape.

Retain wide-ranging views of moorland and coast.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Sense of place/inspiration
  • Food provision
  • Sense of history
  • Tranquillity
  • Recreation
  • Biodiversity

Sense of history

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Archaeological features
  • Geodiversity

State – A sense of history is evident in the rich archaeology dating to prehistoric times. Features include rock art, barrows, cairns, standing stones, forts, roman remains, historic tracks/trods and ecclesiastical sites. A sense of how people settled and worked the land is evident in the earth works of enclosed and unenclosed farmsteads in the south and east.

Aspects of history that are likely to be particularly evident to the general public are the strikingly attractive small villages built from local materials that are evidence of early Dane and Norse arrivals. The settlements were concentrated in upland dales, along the coast and on the South Hambleton Hills. Of these, planned linear and green settlements with tofts to back lanes form a major feature. Rubble limestone or dressed sandstone with red pantile or slate roofs are the most commonly used building materials of most historic buildings in the area. Early Christian stone crosses and ruins of the 12th century Rievaulx Abbey add to the sense of history.

Main beneficiary – National

Analysis – The strong character of this NCA is heightened by the clear evidence of past human use, and visual links with this use (settlement and field patterns, local building materials). Protecting this link with the past and enhancing our understanding of this will further strengthen the character of the area.

Opportunities – Protect the well-preserved archaeological resource by ensuring appropriate land management and development, managing impacts of recreation, controlling encroachment of damaging scrub or bracken.

Promote and retain traditional crafts and techniques.

Provide interpretation of the archaeological and historical sites to aid understanding.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Sense of history
  • Sense of place/inspiration
  • Recreation
  • Geodiversity

Tranquility

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Geology/landform
  • Semi-natural vegetation

State – The area is an important resource for tranquillity with 80 per cent of the area classified as ‘undisturbed’ according to the CRPE Intrusion Map 2007 – a decrease from 93 per cent in 1960.

Main beneficiary – Regional

Analysis – The expanse of heather moorland gives a strong feeling of space, openness, solitude and wildness, which contrasts strongly with the intimate dales villages.

Opportunities – Retain the open, remote and tranquil character of the moorland plateaux by discouraging development or additional manmade infrastructure.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Tranquillity
  • Sense of place/inspiration
  • Recreation

Recreation

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Rights of way network
  • Open access land

State – A significant proportion of the NCA – 65,550 ha or 39 per cent – is accessible, and most of this is open access land, at 36 per cent of the area, largely comprising the open moorlands. There is also a network of rights of way totalling 2,762 km at a density of 0.7km per km2. Further opportunities for recreation are provided by the Coast to Coast path, the Cleveland Way and Ebor Way. In addition to this, the whole area is a major draw for recreation and tourism with North York Moors National Park accounting for 85 per cent of the NCA.

Main beneficiary – Regional

Analysis – Any increase in recreational activity throughout the year, while offering positive economic and health benefits, must be managed sustainably, such that there is no increased erosion around paths and other well used areas.

Opportunities – Manage paths network and increased access to reduce sedimentation of the River Esk, thereby improving the condition of salmonid spawning gravels, enabling increased number of trout and salmon and improved recreational fishing. Such work would also serve to reduce soil erosion and improve conditions for the freshwater pearl mussel (BAP species).

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Recreation
  • Regulating soil erosion
  • Regulating soil quality
  • Regulating water quality
  • Biodiversity

Biodiversity

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Semi-natural ‘priority’ habitats; S41 species; designated sites (SSSI, SAC, SPA, local sites)

State – 65 Sites of Special Scientific Interest designated wholly or partly for biological interest within the NCA, some of these sites having further levels of designation as National Nature Reserves or as European Sites (SAC / SPA). A total area of 47,179 ha within the NCA has been designated.

90 local sites of biological interest have been designated within the NCA.

Main beneficiary – International

Analysis – The network of designated sites is the cornerstone of efforts to reduce fragmentation of habitats, create stronger ecological networks and allow native habitats and species to adapt to climate change. Designated sites are also fundamental to long term monitoring and thus to our understanding of ecology and responses of organisms to environmental change.

Opportunities – Review SSSI series and consider what amendments may be needed at a series and site level to protect the biodiversity and best enable its adaptation to environmental change.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Biodiversity
  • Climate regulation

Geodiversity

Assets/attributes: main contributors to service –

  • Geological exposures and features; designated sites (SSSI, local sites)

State – 29 Sites of Special Scientific Interest designated wholly or partly for geological interest within the NCA.

23 local sites of geological interest have been designated within the NCA.

Main beneficiary – National

Analysis – The network of designated sites underpins our knowledge of geology and is often the focus of research to further this understanding.

Opportunities – Review SSSI series in light of new research to ensure it continues to protect the best and most important examples of geodiversity.

Principal services offered by opportunities

  • Geodiversity