A NEW interactive map showing the location of important habitats in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has been developed with the help of farmers.

The mapping tool – named ‘Re:Cover’ – is designed to help people looking to protect, expand and connect habitats such as flower-rich hay meadows, wildlife-rich wetlands and ancient woodlands.

It uses information gathered from surveys every year since 2010 by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, as well as information collected by Natural England and the Forestry Commission.

Re:Cover makes available the information held by the National Park Authority on the habitats farmers and land managers already manage and protect.

However it goes further by indicating where new habitat could be created, or the land better managed, to create networks that spread throughout the National Park.

The map also shows the parts of the National Park where exciting and novel approaches to managing land for nature are already being trialled.

Craven farmer Anthony Bradley tested the map as it was being developed.

He said: “The Farming and Land Management Forum and the steering group for the National Park Management Plan were keen to have this habitat map.

"The great thing about the map is that it shows you what you’ve got and the possibilities that can come from that.

"It’s a really good starting point if you’re thinking of doing some stewardship scheme or other work like that, giving a factual basis for informed discussion.”

Mr Bradley runs 150 ewes and about the same number of rearing cattle on 90 acres at Mearbeck between Settle and Long Preston.

He has been planting hedges as part of a Countryside Stewardship agreement.

He said: “We had these little bits of beckside woods and some old ancient hedges that were all fragmented.

"Even on our modest-sized place we’ve managed to put in 1,300 metres of hedge to try to connect it all.

"And we’ll go for another five or six hundred metres if we can get the funding. I saw a dragonfly here [by Mearbeck] last summer.

"I haven’t seen a dragonfly on this beck since I don’t know when.

“There’s an old hedge that we’ve connected to and, well, there was an enormous flock of long tailed tits in there. If people know where there are hedges and woods and all the rest of it, you can start to see where you can make links.

"Farmers want to farm. But we get that we have to do this other stuff, too.

"There are many win-wins to be had and this map is good at giving you little pointers and clues. It’s quite interesting, for a farmer.”