The landscape of the Forest of Bowland is the result of hundreds of years of human influence and farming has always been at the heart of the local economy.
Farming is going through a period of change in the Forest of Bowland, but the link between food producers and consumers remains intact, with a direct connection from field to fork.
The area’s resourceful hill farmers are responsible for building and maintaining the dry stone walls, wildflower meadows, country lanes and outlying barns that are so characteristic of Bowland.
The land has traditionally been managed for game hunting and farming since the middle ages and the large country estates have had a huge influence over the development of the area.
Farming remains an important aspect of the local economy. Sheep and beef farming dominate the upland areas; while dairy farming remains the major land use in the valleys.
Bowland is home to many of the county’s Lancashire cheese producers and the many variations on this young, tangy, dairy fresh cheese can be sampled at outlets across the area.
Local produce can be found in local specialist retailers and at the area’s regular markets in towns like Clitheroe and Bentham and many producers are increasingly opting to sell farm products direct to the customer from the farm gate.
Many Bowland farmers are very environmentally aware and are now using Environmental Stewardship to improve habitats for wildlife on their farms.
Some farmers are diversifying to find new ways of using the land – developing tourism facilities and other enterprises, such as business workspaces. Others are concentrating on their farming and finding ways to improve their income, for example by farming rare breeds, or producing their own boxed meat.
To ensure the Forest of Bowland continues to thrive as a living landscape, farmers, landowners and visitors need to work closely with the AONB to conserve nature in Bowland.