Geltsdale, like many parts of the uplands, had suffered degradation due to damaging land-uses such as intensive sheep-grazing, burning, and blanket-bog drainage. Since the late 1990s, however, the RSPB has taken over management of the site with the aim of improving the land for wildlife and increasing the provision of ecosystem services. Steve Garnett, Jen Selvidge, Stephen Westerberg, Malcolm Ausden and Pat Thompson explain the changes in management at Geltsdale, and describe the promising results that these have had on the reserve’s habitats and breeding populations of priority bird species.
The English uplands support a suite of internationally important habitats and threatened species but, despite their value, large areas are in poor condition and much of their wildlife is in decline. Until the late 1990s, Geltsdale was fairly typical of upland areas of England and Wales.