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Wildlife & Conservation

Our diverse landscape is what makes Castle Howard so special and along with the historical buildings, monuments and artifacts, it too needs protecting
From badgers to bats, birds of prey to invertebrate and even rare species of flora and fungi, the Estate is home to all kinds of wildlife. At Castle Howard, we are committed to managing our land in a sustainable and positive way, for people and for wildlife. You can find out more about the different ways we do this below or take a look at our Wildlife Gallery

Turtle Doves

The beautiful Turtle Dove is our smallest European dove. This tiny powerhouse of a bird flies 11,200 km to reach North Yorkshire from Mali in Africa each spring. Unfortunately, Turtle Doves are in big trouble; their population has declined in both the UK and Europe to such an extent there may now be fewer than 100 birds nesting in the whole of Yorkshire. Only 50 years ago it was classed as a fairly common bird. The North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project, funded by Heritage Lottery, North York Moors National Park, Forestry Commission and Howardian Hills AONB in partnership with RSPB, Scarborough Borough Council, and North and East Yorkshire Ecological Data Centre, aims to help these birds. During 2019, turtle dove surveys took place across the Howardian Hills and Castle Howard Estate to record the number of birds in the area and ultimately, help the chances of these small but beautiful birds.

For more information visit the North York Moors website.


Countryside Stewardship

Countryside Stewardship is a Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), an agri-environment grant scheme to help farmers and land managers protect wildlife, create new habitats, reduce flood risk and improve landscapes to increase productivity and resilience.

In 2018, Castle Howard entered it’s woodlands into the 5 year scheme and so far we have been:

  • Controlling invasive non-native plants such as Himalayan balsam and rhododendron. Both these species are a problem because they out compete native species, reducing the amount of habitat available.
  • Enhancing native woodland plants by managing open spaces such as woodland tracks. Cutting woodland tracks mimics natural process such as wild fires and allows sunlight to the woodland floor, encouraging native plants to regenerate.
  • Creating deadwood habitats which are vital for invertebrate, fungi and small mammals.

Helping our Bluebells Thrive

In winter 2018, Castle Howard began reducing the brambles in some of our key bluebell sites. Brambles are an important part of the woodland eco-system but left unmanaged they can soon cover large areas, blocking light from the woodland floor.

In spring 2019, the bluebells made a strong comeback in the areas that were mulched and we’ve enjoyed some stunning displays of spring flowers.

We're now very much looking forward to seeing how the bluebells fare in 2020. With continued management, the bluebells (and the brambles) will thrive.


Restoring Ancient Woodlands

Our timber is harvested in a sustainable way and the Castle Howard Tree Nursery supplies our team with trees for replanting the woods after felling operations. Environmental stewardship is at the heart of the wider management of the Estate and in recent years older coniferous plantations have been felled and replanted with native broadleaf species such as oak, sycamore and cherry as part of our restoration of ancient woodland sites. 


Have you enjoyed your time at Castle Howard? Want to tell us what you thought? Take our quick and easy Discover Nature survey. It's your opportunity to tell us about your experience of nature on the Estate and how we can improve our visitor experience.

Thank you for your time and we hope you enjoy your next adventure!


Wildlife Gallery

The grounds and Estate are a haven for wildlife; enjoy birdsong in Ray Wood, the hustle and bustle of the birds on the lake and keep your eyes peeled for much more besides.
Take a look at just some of the birds spotted and photographed by members Pauline and David Eccles in the gallery below.
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