Protecting our wildlife and habitats

What comes to mind when you think of the Northumberland National Park? Is it the haunting cry of the curlew floating across the hills, a sparkling upland burn or the purple haze of a heather moorland in full bloom?

All these are part of the Park’s ecology and biodiversity and make it a fantastic place to relax, watch wildlife or just soak up the sights and sounds on a walk.

In our Things to Do section you’ll find the wonderful places, plants and animals you can see and hear when visiting, and here you can find out what Northumberland National Park Authority, local people and partners are doing to make sure it stays this way for generations.

Natural Environment Vision

There are many species which have adapted to specific habitats. Some are relatively common in Northumberland but are rare in the rest of the UK and Europe. Habitat conservation and recreation are key to keeping species in their rightful habitat.

Northumberland National Park Natural Environment Vision 2014-2035 – PDF File

Wildlife in the park

Some of the wildlife you'll find in Northumberland National Park.

Red Squirrels

Now extinct in most parts of England, the red squirrel still lives in many woodlands in Northumberland.

Red Squirrels live in both native broadleaved woods and in planted conifer blocks, but cannot compete with the larger grey squirrel, which is spreading across the UK.

Conservationists are trying to halt the spread of grey squirrels into areas where red squirrels live. Trees are also being planted that provide food for red squirrels, but not grey squirrels.

Perhaps the last refuge of the Red Squirrel will be in the Kielder Forest, part of which lies within Northumberland National Park.

For more information on Red Squirrels, and the efforts being made to protect the species, visit the Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) website.

Sightings of red and grey squirrels can be made via this website, which also contains information about conservation efforts and the distribution of Red Squirrel across the North of England.

Barn Owls

Barn Owls hunt over rough grassland and woodland edges where they can catch their small mammal prey such as voles, mice and shrews.

Their numbers fluctuate depending on prey numbers and the weather – as rain and snow can stop them hunting and finding food.

Historically, loss of hunting habitat and nesting locations have reduced numbers too, as well as hazards such as cars, electricity lines and fences.

In Northumberland National Park, we have been working with landowners, volunteers and contractors to make nest boxes and locate them in good areas close to good hunting habitat.

Each year, the boxes are checked and young are ringed so we can learn more about the population in the future.

By creating more sites for nests, we can increase numbers to help the population survive years when there is bad weather or low food availability.

If you’d like more information about Barn Owl conservation, visit

Black Grouse

The vigorous display of the cock birds is carried out on ‘leks’, which have been used by the birds for generations, but you will have to be up early to witness this in April and May.

Concern for black grouse has resulted in habitat improvements, such as creating wet areas with cotton grass (one of their favourite foods) and new native woodlands.

Black Grouse are now only found in a few places in the north of England, including the North Pennines and Yorkshire Dales.

They have declined significantly in Northumberland National Park in recent years, and now only a few birds remain in Redesdale, Hadrian’s Wall and the Cheviots.

Northumberland National Park Authority will continue to improve habitats for them, and try to link up the populations to the north and south.

The authority would love to hear from anyone who has seen any Black Grouse in the Park. Please use the Contact page to get in touch.

Reporting wildlife

Reporting red squirrels

If you see and red or grey squirrel in the Park, please record it with the Red Squirrel North of England project.

Reporting hen harriers

If you see a hen harrier, please report it to the Hen Harrier Hotline. The number is 08454 600121 (calls charged at a local rate). Reports can also be e-mailed to [email protected].

Reporting wildlife sightings should include the date and location of sighting, with a six-figure grid reference where possible.

We are interested in any records of wildlife you have for Northumberland National Park.
Please submit them to the North East Environmental Records Centre, which verifies, digitises and sends updates to us.

Good Nature Fund & Links

The Good Nature Fund has been specifically set up to safeguarding the future of wildlife in Northumberland National Park.

How to donate

If you would like to make a donation, please post a cheque to the following address. Cheques should be crossed ‘Account Payee Only’ and made payable to:

Northumberland National Park Authority
Eastburn, South Park
NE46 1BS

Interested to receive funding?

If you are interested to receive funding or would like to discuss your donation, please contact our Ecologist to find out how to apply or what projects might be possible.

Please send any questions to [email protected].

Conservation Links