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The Yorkshire Dales National Park is a unique place: its exceptional scenery and the diverse range of habitats is perhaps unrivalled in any of Britain's National Parks. For centuries already, this wealth of biodiversity has attracted naturalists. But without an understanding of the geology and landscape history of this Park, it is hard to fully appreciate the plant and animal communities found here nowadays, what their status is, or how they are constrained. This includes having an understanding of the historical role of human populations in in modifying and shaping their environment.
With this long-awaited New Naturalist volume, John Lee introduces the National Park, examining both its geology and geomorphology. He also describes how early naturalists and the Yorkshire Naturalists Union played a role in understanding the natural history of the Dales by meticulously recording their observations.
A chapter on land-use history covers the earliest settlement times to the modern day, and he pays special attention to the most iconic plant of the Dales, the Lady's Slipper Orchid, arguably the rarest of native British plants which until recently was thought to be confined to the Dales. Lee takes a historical approach, describing the orchid's near-eradication and early attempts to conserve it (including the establishment of a secret society), and concludes with recent conservation measures based on more current scientific understanding. The author also looks at the ecology of The Dales and how this is affected by climate change, and agricultural and environmental policies, as well as the pressures exerted by larger numbers of visitors.
"[...] Yorkshire Dales is more familiar New Naturalist territory – a pleasant excursion into another of our National Parks. [...] As usual, it runs the gamut of natural geology, man-modified landscapes, semi-natural habitats and wildlife, and in a very readable, engaged style [...]"
– Peter Marren, British Wildlife 27(2), December 2015