Wild Ingleborough – one year on

This multi-partner conservation project aims to restore wildlife habitats in the Ingleborough area. A year since its launch, we celebrate the project's achievements and lay out its next steps.

Launched in spring 2021, Wild Ingleborough is a partnership between the University of Leeds, WWF-UK, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, United Bank of Carbon and Woodland Trust.

Through a combination of planting native trees and allowing vegetation to recover naturally, Wild Ingleborough looks to restore 1,200 hectares of land in an area covering the River Ribble up towards the Ingleborough mountain summit – the second highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales.

A year on from the launch, Wild Ingleborough has made incredible progress in its restoration mission through the help of volunteers, expert researchers, the local community, and partnering organisations and charities.

A key part of nature’s recovery on Ingleborough will be the re-establishment of tree cover in appropriate places.

Professor Dominick Spracklen, from the School of Earth and Environment, is one of the University of Leeds project leaders for Wild Ingleborough.

He said: “Native woodland only covers about 1% of the Yorkshire Dales. Many native woodlands are small and fragmented and the wildlife that depends on the woodland is under threat. To help address these issues, Wild Ingleborough is working to expand and connect existing areas of native woodland.”

Since the beginning of the project, 65,700 native trees have been planted at Ingleborough, more than double the project’s first-year target of planting 30,000 trees, exemplifying the impact of the project thus far.

Hannah Marshall, Outreach Adviser at Woodland Trust, said: “We are proud to have been able to supply the project with over 33,000 UK- and Ireland-sourced and grown trees.

“It has been a fantastic year working with the Wild Ingleborough partnership to further build on the work done by partnering organisations such as Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England.”

In addition to tree planting, the project will facilitate natural regeneration of vegetation and allow woodlands to expand naturally.

Dr Cat Scott is another University of Leeds project lead, also from the School of Earth and Environment, and is Director of the Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere and Forest centre (LEAF).

She said:  “We will complete detailed monitoring of the growth and survival of both planted and naturally regenerated trees, helping us to understand the most effective and appropriate ways to encourage woodland expansion in the uplands”.

Building on decades of monitoring already carried out by project partners Natural England and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the Wild Ingleborough team will assess how stocks of carbon stored in vegetation and soils change as the landscape is restored, providing crucial evidence of how re-establishing ecosystems can help the UK reach net-zero targets.