Wild Ennerdale

Business, Community, Local Gov't, Public Sector, Third Sector • Copeland

Wild Ennerdale is recognised as the longest-running 're-wilding' project in the UK; shaping the landscape naturally through collaborative working.

  • Dynamic River Liza: connected river and floodplain.
  • Trees for the future: expanding and diversifying woodland.
  • Extensive grazing with cattle: adapting farming and aiding nature recovery.

Wild Ennerdale's story

Wild Ennerdale began as a simple desire to talk to one another more as landowners, share resources more effectively and to work more sensitively with nature to bring greater benefits for people and place. That was 20 years ago and Wild Ennerdale is now recognised as the longest-running 're-wilding' project in the UK.

The partnership brings together the three main landowners (National Trust, Forestry England & United Utilities) along with Natural England. We developed a vision and a set of guiding principles early on in the process which was based around nature being more in charge to shape the look, feel and function of the valley, along with local conversations and what people liked (and disliked) about the valley. That vision and set of guiding principles remain relevant now and are at the core of all our work.

We have always worked closely with local stakeholders and wider contacts at regional, national and international level. That continues today and is an important part of our work both to share learning, develop ambitions and steer future work. We are now part of a network of landscape scale initiatives both here in the UK and in Europe. We have a dedicated team of local volunteers who have been active over the last 15 years, delivering practical work (come rain or shine) and throughout all seasons. They are fully committed, skilled and great advocates.

Throughout our work, we have been inspired and supported by many individuals and projects around the UK, particularly in Scotland. We have also hosted many different groups and individuals wanting to visit to see the valley and our work. We adopt an opportunistic approach and are as flexible in our work as possible as by definition, nature can be unpredictable and it's about adaptation rather than constraints when working in a landscape.

We place many demands upon our landscape; access, food, timber, water, tourism, research, mental health and wellbeing to name a few. We try to balance those through our collaborative working and recognise that if we give nature a chance, we can reap great rewards through observation, patience and facilitation. We are facing unprecedented times with biodiversity decline and a climate emergency. We hope Wild Ennerdale plays a small part in offering practical solutions which can be applied elsewhere in the Lakes and beyond.

Find out how we are rewilding by watching the video.

Useful learnings from Wild Ennerdale

The idea of 'rewilding' wasn't in the public domain when we set out. Our driver was the place and a sense that we could do more to enhance the special qualities of the site to bring more nature and people benefits.

This evolved over the initial couple of years into a wilding project. It wasn't something that happened quickly, was imposed, or triggered by external funding.

Engagement from the outset has been key. We work with a wide range of audiences locally, regionally and nationally including the local community and volunteers. We are only a small team of staff, so balancing the engagement with delivery of the practical work in the valley can be a challenge, particulary in more recent years as the public interest in 're-wilding' has grown.

We have a long-term approach with no fixed end-point which offers more sustainable solutions for nature recovery. We are driving change which we hope can offer learning and experiences which can be applied elsewhere.

Wild Ennerdale's metrics

Onsite monitoring, feedback and observations.
Vegetation surveys, bird surveys, red squirrel monitoring.
Number of trees planted.
New hectares of natural woodland regeneration.
Number of reintroduced species.
Public engagement and feedback.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...



Response to climate crisis

Mitigation & Adaptation




Business, Community, Local Gov't, Public Sector, Third Sector, 10 to 49 people

Shared by

North West Net Zero Hub

Updated Feb, 2024

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