Identifying the opportunities for and threats to the British Uplands: what are the policy and research priorities?

This workshop draws together some of the major stakeholders in the British uplands to begin to identify the issues, threats and opportunities for upland ecosystems.

northumberland national park Camilla Morrison-Bell

We will hear from a diverse range of speakers representing potentially different visions for the future during the morning, before a facilitated plenary discussion and feedback session in the afternoon.

We aim to capture the diverse range of views in order to identify the key policy and research priorities and help to guide future work by British Ecological Society in this important area.


Key aims are to:

  1. Facilitate an evidence-based discussion on the future of the British uplands in what can be a contentious policy and management topic,
  2. Establish the viewpoints of important stakeholders regarding the future of the uplands post-Brexit;
  3. Identify the top policy and research questions  by collecting data through facilitated discussion and to determine where there is consensus; and
  4. Use the workshop data to guide future BES policy work in the British uplands (potentially a first publication immediately post-workshop), and to consider a future event.

Schedule for the day:

Registration and coffee between 9:15-9:45

A morning of talks with time for Q&A from a range of upland stakeholders, followed by an afternoon of faciliated discussion and feedback. The workshop will finish by 16:00

Lunch will be provided as will tea and coffee throughout the day.
Contact Camilla if you have any queries


The uplands, covering a third of Britain’s land surface, have considerable environmental, social and economic values.  Internationally important for their unique plant and bird assemblages, and revered for the diversity of distinctive landscapes,  they provide a range of services such as provision of drinking water and food (mainly via livestock grazing and deer), climate regulation (northern peatlands are the most important carbon store in the terrestrial biosphere), flood risk mitigation, water quality regulation and a wide range of cultural services including tourism, recreation and education that give physical and mental health benefits.

Shaped by centuries of deforestation,  agriculture and other human interventions, the British uplands are now on the cusp of major change, with much of this influenced by developments in and outwith the EU, and variably across Britain.   Debates are growing increasingly heated over so-called ‘rewilding’, conflicts between game management and raptor conservation, and the roles of hill farming, tourism and renewable energy developments.    All of this could have a profound influence on upland biodiversity, ecosystem services and the fabric of human enterprise across Britain. Moreover, as the impacts of climate-warming, atmospheric N deposition, land use intensification and other drivers of change become clearer, questions regarding the future management and ‘ownership’  of the uplands, as well as the ecological impacts of such changes, are becoming more apparent.

Lead organisers: Darren Evans (Newcastle University), Des Thompson (Scottish Natural Heritage), Jamie Newbold (Aberystwyth University), Davy McCracken (Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)