Cumbrian project aims to restore landscape

Community interest company, Buy Land Plant Trees, has used proceeds from its parent company Chimney Sheep, known for its Herdwick Wool chimney draught excluders, to buy land in Cumbria with the aim of helping to reduce the effects of climate change.

A 158-acre plot at Low Fell near Loweswater in the Western Lake District will form part of Chimney Sheep’s strategy to act at a local level that will see the planting of trees, the re-establishment of moorland and the restoration of a peat bog on the Wainwright fell. The restoration project will be undertaken by ecologist and Director of Chimney Sheep, Sally Phillips, helped by the Woodland Trust and Cumbria Rivers Trust.

The main aim of the project will be to increase carbon capture, help with local flooding mitigation and increase habitats for local wildlife. The project will also increase the level of vegetation on the fell via the planting of trees such as rowan hawthorn, blackthorn, willow and birch. The recovery of plants such as heather, juniper and bilberry will also be encouraged, accelerating the goals of the higher-level stewardship scheme for moorland restoration the fell is currently under.

It is hoped that a more diverse mosaic of habitats will be created for local wildlife while the planting of tree types such as willow and alder in specific areas of the fell will help to contribute to flood alleviation in the local area, which has suffered in recent years with flooding of land and homes.

The restoration of the peat bog will also play a key role in the aims of the project and in the long term will act as a significant carbon store with the potential to hold 30-70k of carbon per cubic meter. It is hoped the peat bog will also help attract a wealth of plants, animals and insects that inhabit peatlands, currently extremely scarce due to the decrease in peatland across the UK.

Commenting on the purchase of Low Fell, Sally Phillips, the Director of Chimney Sheep said: “This is an extremely exciting project to take on and we hope that over time, the work we put into restoring the landscape to a more natural state on Low Fell will help to reduce some of the impacts of climate change in our local area. My motto is ‘think globally, act locally’ and that is exactly what this project is all about – taking the goals of COP26 and putting them into action locally.”

The next few months will be spent fixing fences, giving the land a rest from grazing to allow the heather and bilberry to recover, starting the process of the restoration of the peat bog and beginning the planting of the willow trees.

In the longer term, we would also like to promote agroforestry on Low Fell by eventually get some livestock back on the land working alongside the increased vegetation,” adds Sally. “At Chimney Sheep we work closely with the farming community to source the Herdwick wool for our products and are also very passionate about the environment. We want to demonstrate to people that farming and planting trees can work hand in hand and complement one another extremely well“.

This is the third piece of land bought by Chimney Sheep’s Community Interest Company, Buy Land Plant Trees. On their other two plots a total of 37,000 trees have been planted funded by grants, 20% of the profit from Chimney Sheep and donations.

Chimney Sheep was founded in 2021 by former ecologist Sally Phillips producing draught excluders made from Herdwick wool.They have won numerous environmental and business awards.