Project Name

Wild Ennerdale



Current land designations

SAC & SSSI (>40%), National Park

Specific location

Ennerdale Valley, West Cumbria

Year rewilding started


Grid reference



Latitude: 54 27 52 N Longitude: 03 13 39 W


Minimum:362 ft (110m, western shore of Ennerdale Water)

Maximum: 3957 ft ( 899m at the east on the summit of Great Gable)

Project Management

Ownership: Forestry Commission, National Trust, United Utilities - together forming the Wild Ennerdale Partnership

Management: The Wild Ennerdale Partnership directly or through tenant farmers.

A Liaison Group and Advisory Group provide advice, feedback and the involvement of a  wide range of stakeholders including The Lake District National Park Authority, Environment Agency, Ennerdale Parish Council and Friends of The Lake District.

A management plan (The Wild Ennerdale Stewardship Plan) produced in 2006 provides the primary management document and is reviewed every 5 years.

Area under rewilding (hectares)

4300ha including upand fell, native woodland, lake and lakeshore, inbye, conifer forest, grassland and mire

Project funding

Principally funded through the partners with support from other Agencies either indirectly through ESA agreements etc or directly as funding towards specific projects eg Natural England for setting up monitoring baselines.

Rewilding methods

The Partnership has a vision to “allow the evolution of Ennerdale as a wild valley for the benefit of people relying more on natural processes to shape its landscape and ecology”. The partnership sees ‘Wilding’ as a process of change that involves reducing the intensity and type of human intervention and allowing natural processes greater freedom to operate.

Importantly Wild Ennerdale is not trying to recreate some past state but allow the valley to develop into the future.

Activities involve allowing conifer clear fells to regenerate naturally with no specific preference towards what habitat develops; planting juniper and native broadleaves to provide an alternate seed source to spruce; allowing natural regeneration of all species; controlling spruce regeneration; reducing sheep grazing; introducing extensive cattle grazing; removing physical and administrative boundaries; restricting vehicle access; removing/reducing modern human artifacts such as bridges and concrete revetments; and exploring the social aspects of how people are involved in landscapes.

Extensive monitoring at all landscape levels is an important part of the project.

Habitats present

An extensive survey of the valley has been completed mapping of over 80 separate National vegetation habitats, including nationally important mires, upland oak woodland and sub-alpine heath. The River Liza is considered to be one of the top three geomorpohologically  most natural river systems in England.

Target species

In general, no one species is being targeted.

Species reintroductions

None currently planned, although Red Deer arrived naturally in 2003 from an expanding population based in Grizedale Forest in South Cumbria. Marsh fritillary a possible in the future at the west end of the valley.

Access to the area

The majority of the area is Open Access under CROW and the remainder is publicly open.

Links to further information

Wild Ennerdale website: www.wildennerdale.co.uk

Wild Ennerdale stewardship plan:


Journal article: ECOS 25 (3/4):pg 34-38

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