It was a tragic day for the nation’s wildlife when England’s last and loneliest golden eagle died in an unmarked spot among the remote eastern fells of the Lake District. But the fight to restore the landscape had already begun.
Lee Schofield, ecologist and site manager for RSPB Haweswater, is leading efforts to breathe life back into two hill farms and their thirty square kilometres of sprawling upland habitat.
Informed by the land, its turbulent history and the people who have shaped it, Lee and his team are repairing damaged wetlands, meadows and woods. Each year, the landscape is becoming richer, wilder and better able to withstand the shocks of a changing climate.
But in the contested landscape of the Lake District, change is not always welcomed, and success relies on finding a balance between rewilding and respecting cherished farming traditions. This is not only a story of an ecosystem in recovery, it is also the story of Lee’s personal connection to place, and the highs and lows of working for nature amid fierce opposition.
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