Conserving our future

Farnley Estates have been awarded Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) status from Natural England. It’s the only traditional Estate within Yorkshire and Humberside, where home and tenant farms have all achieved HLS or Entry Level Stewardship status.

It’s rare for such a large Estate to achieve the invitation-only HLS status due to the high level of conservation required. Farnley Estate’s existing management principles meant that the scheme’s five primary objectives – conserving wildlife, maintaining and enhancing the landscape, protecting the historic environment, promoting public access, and protecting natural resources – were already being met.

“Over the past decade we’ve invested a great deal of time and money to bring the Estate up to the high standards required to achieve HLS status. It means that the way we work and everything we do has the future interests of the land and environment in mind,” said Paul Sykes, Farnley Estates Managing Director.

As well as demonstrating excellence in Estate management, Farnley Estates have undertaken a number of specific projects, including opening the woodland canopies to stimulate the regeneration of trees and woodland flora and fauna.

The HLS agreement lasts for ten years, during which time the Estate will receive regular audits to make sure they’re maintaining standards and achieving their targets within set time limits. Farnley Estates has opted for unannounced audits, which means that Natural England representatives are not required to give prior notice of visits.

HLS is about demonstrating best practice in everything from farming and environmental management to improving access for visitors, including ramblers, anglers and horse riders.

As Paul explained: “At Farnley Estates, we’re privileged to have some of the most beautiful countryside in England. We realise that we have a responsibility to conserve this environment for generations to come.”

Projects already undertaken by Farnley Estates include:
• Refurbishing and managing hedgerows
• Planting nectar rich plants to encourage bees
• Managing the 400 acres of ancient woodland, which date back to the reign of Henry VIII
• Retaining dead tree stumps for insects to encourage woodpeckers
• Prohibiting block spraying of pesticides
• Dredging the pond in Squirrel Wood, which is now home to Hill House Angling Club
• Introducing spring crops resulting in Lapwings returning to the area

As part of the HLS agreement, Farnley Estates will continue to encourage conservation within the area, while opening up the Estate to visitors and users.