National Character Area 19

South Cumbria Low 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: Manage and enhance the combination of open low fells, commons and valleys, with their mosaic of heathlands, species-rich meadows, wetlands and native woodlands among the matrix of pastures, to create a coherent and resilient ecological network and to strengthen the distinctive landscape character.

For example by:

  • Maintaining and protecting the open fell tops and extensive views across this NCA into adjacent areas, and the contrast between these and the enclosed valleys and densely wooded areas, to retain the sense of place and tranquillity.
  • Maintaining, restoring and expanding semi-natural fell and valley habitats, while seeking opportunities to create an ecological mosaic connecting heathland, bracken, scrub, woodland, species-rich pastures, wetlands and tarns. Creating habitat corridors, buffers and stepping stones, within the existing matrix of improved pasture.
  • Managing, restoring and expanding the area of upland heathland: extending existing areas, targeting the conversion of grasslands on poor soils, and ensuring that grazing and management through burning are in line with the nature conservation objectives for each site.
  • Managing, restoring and buffering wetland valley habitats (including lowland raised bogs, valley mires and fens) through the sympathetic management of hydrology and through employing appropriate grazing regimes. This will increase the resilience of these habitats to climate change, as well as increasing their ability to store carbon.
  • Retaining any appropriately-managed bracken stands that are of interest for breeding birds or butterfly populations, or where they retain elements of woodland flora.
  • Ensuring that habitat networks address the requirements of key species, enabling the expansion of their range and ability to adapt to climate change, for example through the coppice management of suitable woodlands and bracken, and the sustainable management of deer populations.
  • Maintaining the historic field patterns defined by networks of drystone walls, hedges and trees, retaining local differences in the style of boundary features and the materials used.
  • Protecting and managing boundary hedgerows and trees, and avoiding replacing them with fencing.
  • In the east of the area, seeking opportunities to expand the area of broadleaved woodland by buffering existing small woodlands, creating new woodlands on valley sides and in gills, and seeking ways of increasing the broadleaved component of shelterbelts and coniferous plantations.
  • Seeking opportunities for increasing the length and area of natural riparian habitats along the rivers, to prevent damage to banks from stock grazing, to reduce sediment and nutrient runoff, and to create habitat corridors.
  • Promoting the management of hay meadows and semi-improved pastures, to safeguard and enhance their botanical interest.


SEO 2: Conserve the distinctive landscape character of the South Cumbria Low Fells, including the wealth of natural, geological and cultural heritage, and the internationally renowned Lake District National Park. Sustainably manage and improve opportunities for the enjoyment and understanding of this popular area.

For example by:

  • Promoting the maintenance and restoration of traditional farm buildings, farmhouses and listed buildings, using local stone and building styles.
  • Promoting the conservation of historic and designed landscapes (parkland), industrial archaeology, and locations associated with both the Romantic and Arts and Crafts movements.
  • Promoting sustainable tourism practices that integrate the management of visitors with the enhancement of the area’s natural and cultural attributes.
  • Planning for the sustainable expansion of settlements, to deliver community needs, while protecting the nationally important natural and local cultural and historical features, and the contribution they make to local distinctiveness and the sense of place.
  • Protecting the expansive views from the fells by sensitively planning urban development and expansion.
  • Minimising light spill from both settlements and traffic to retain a sense of remoteness and tranquillity on fells and within valleys.
  • Encouraging the delivery of a sustainable transport network with improved public transport.
  • Seeking opportunities to minimise disturbance and loss of tranquillity within the M6 corridor.
  • Raising awareness of, and encouraging community involvement in, planning and management decisions within the NCA.
  • Conserving and interpreting archaeological earthworks and sub-surface archaeology, while recognising the potential for undiscovered remains.
  • Managing and conserving the 18th- and 19th-century parkland landscapes and villas – especially those on the shores of Coniston Water and Windermere – to protect their historical and cultural heritage.
  • Maintaining the panoramic views over the adjacent high fells, lowlands and estuaries of Morecambe Bay.
  • Widening awareness of the value of the geology of the South Cumbria Low Fells, by maintaining and improving access to – and enabling the study of – important geological exposures.
  • Conserving and enhancing geological sites, and providing opportunities to increase people’s understanding of the geological heritage.
  • Using local stone for both field boundaries and the restoration of farmsteads and other vernacular buildings, to reveal the links to the underlying geology.


SEO 3: Safeguard and manage woodlands to retain them as important landscape features, and for their national and international biodiversity interest, along with their cultural and historical heritage. Seek ways to increase woodland cover in appropriate locations to mitigate the effects of climate change, address water quality and soil erosion, and supply timber products.

For example by:

  • Promoting the establishment of a coherent and resilient network of treescapes (native woodland, wood pasture, parkland, coppice, scrub, field trees and hedgerows) through expanding and linking existing woodland with areas of new planting.
  • Increasing the area of native broadleaved tree cover – in particular in the east of the area – in appropriate locations, and aiming to buffer, connect and improve the management of existing woodlands.
  • Protecting the strong local cultural and historical heritage of woodlands in the central area of the NCA, through the promotion of traditional and sustainable management practices such as coppicing, hedgelaying and pollarding.
  • Evaluating the biodiversity contribution of coniferous plantations. Seeking opportunities to increase the proportion of native species, or to restore them to open habitats, where such a change would bring significant improvements to biodiversity interest and the landscape.
  • Sustainably managing and enhancing existing native woodland, while ensuring sufficient retention of deadwood for wildlife. Conserving the area’s rich legacy of significant archaeological sites associated with woodland exploitation.
  • Restoring plantations on ancient woodland sites to more natural communities of native species.
  • Ensuring regeneration within existing native woodland, through the exclusion of deer and livestock where necessary.
  • Promoting local, renewable energy generation using wood fuel from locally managed woodlands and by-products from timber production.
  • Encouraging a low-impact rural industry based on woodland products, including supporting woodland owners in developing skills to actively manage their woodlands.
  • Promoting the public understanding of woodlands: combining tourism and visitor activities with sustainable management that enhances natural and cultural attributes.
  • Promoting the production and use of trees of local genetic provenance, free from disease, for stocking and re-planting.


SEO 4: Manage and enhance the wetlands, rivers, lakes, tarns, watercourses, raised bogs and mires for the benefit of water quality, biodiversity and recreation, and to mitigate flood risk and the effects of climate change.

For example by:

  • Promoting a whole-catchment approach to enhancing the quality of the area’s lakes, rivers and tarns, and strengthening their resilience to climate change.
  • Promoting phosphorus-free management practices to tourism businesses.
  • Working with the farming community to promote good nutrient management on in-bye land, and ensuring that farm practices reduce the rates of diffuse pollution generated in and around farmsteads. Targeting nutrient applications to maximise grass growth and to minimise runoff rates.
  • Promoting sustainable water use and conservation, as well as the benefits that this can provide for the Lake District’s lakes and rivers.
  • Ensuring that all abstractions are sustainable in a catchment context.
  • Restoring and buffering lowland raised bogs, valley mires and fens by working with farmers, landowners and others to manage water levels in and adjacent to these sites. Implementing tree removal and managed grazing regimes where appropriate, to restore water-holding capacity, encourage active peat formation and protect peaty soils, and to increase resilience to climate change.
  • Enhancing, restoring and expanding aquatic habitats (fens and hydroseres) to conserve their unique assemblage of flora and fauna, ensuring that the transitional area between lake or tarn and surrounding land is maintained.
  • Seeking opportunities for sustainable river management that works with natural processes and allows space for rivers within connected flood plains to increase their resilience to extreme weather events, while enhancing water quality, biodiversity and recreational use, and managing the downstream flood risk.
  • Promoting sustainable recreational opportunities on lakes and rivers, enabling quiet enjoyment, while continuing to protect existing undisturbed areas for wildlife.
  • Ensuring that any future local and regional development addresses water use, abstraction and demand, to minimise impacts on water quality, resources, flood risk and associated aquatic habitats, and to improve the ecology and resilience of lake and river systems.
  • Protecting populations of vulnerable key freshwater species, such as white-clawed crayfish, bullhead, freshwater pearl mussel and Arctic char.
  • Managing invasive freshwater species through awareness-raising and early warning detection.
  • Promoting sustainable tourism practices that integrate the management of visitors with the enhancement of the area’s natural and cultural attributes.

On this Page