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RSPB Haweswater Conservation Project – Jan-June 2018

August 31, 2018

Since March 2017, the Society has been supporting an exciting conservation project at RSPB Haweswater in the Lake District.

We have teamed up with the RSPB, United Utilities and Natural England to restore native alpine plants to the fells around Haweswater reservoir. The site being restored is at Mardale Head, easily accessible from the visitor car park.

You can read more about the initial stages of the project here. Below is an update on the progress in the first half of 2018.

RSPB Haweswater

January – June 2018 Activity

Since January, there has been a range of positive developments:

  • Surveying of the surrounding area has revealed some exciting discoveries. Particularly exciting is the discovery of a large patch of Saussurea alpina (alpine saw-wort). Historic records for the species existed but it hadn’t been seen for several decades. Seed will be distributed to AGS volunteers to grow for later planting into the exclosure.
  • The AGS-funded polytunnel is being constructed and should be ready for use by the end of summer.
  • The fences are successfully preventing grazing from sheep and deer. As a result, the habitat is developing well. Planted species include juniper, roseroot and a range of tree and shrub species.
RSPB Haweswater plants
  • Some self-seeded species are becoming more common in the exclosure. These include goldenrod (Solidago), lesser meadow rue (Thalictrum minus), wood crane’s-bill (Geranium sylvaticum), green spleenwort (Asplenium viride) and yellow mountain saxifrage (Saxifraga aizoides).
  • The first batch of plug plants grown by AGS members from locally collected seed has been received. Globeflower (Trollius), wood crane’s-bill and bitter vetch (Lathyrus linifolius) are ready to plant out later in the year. A volunteer planting day will be arranged and AGS members are welcome to attend.
  • The first visitor figures from the AGS-funded people counter have revealed impressive results. At least 23,000 people visited Mardale between September 2017 and June 2018.
RSPB Haweswater planting RSPB Haweswater planting RSPB Haweswater planting

To add to these impressive developments, Haweswater site manager Lee Schofield spent three weeks in south west Norway studying upland habitats. The trip provided valuable information about upland ecology that will help inform restoration projects at Mardale. (The trip was partly funded through the AGS Travel Award.)


Photos: David Morris.