A PIONEERING conservation scheme which helped farmers look after the landscape of the North York Moors National Park has ended after 20 years.

The park’s Farm Scheme began in 1990 and initially worked with 10 farms in remote Farndale, north of Kirkbymoorside, giving grants to maintain and introduce stone walls and hedges, woodland, hay meadows, and traditional stone barns.

Farmer Mark Carter, from Overend Farm in Rosedale, was in the scheme for 20 years. He said: “When we bought 60 acres of neighbouring land that was in a bad state of affairs, grants from the Farm Scheme enabled us to build and repair walls and fences to make the land sheep and cattle proof. It’s enabled us to expand our business and looks really good now.”

Simon Whitehead, the park’s head of natural environment, said the Farm Scheme had been used as an example of best practice by national schemes rolled out since it began, and was being brought to a close now those national schemes had taken over much of its work. But he said tight budgets now played a part in all the park’s decisions.

Now Natural England’s national Higher Level Stewardship scheme has also ended Mr Whitehead said the park would lobby the government about its replacement.

He said they want to see cultural heritage and landscape impacts considered as well as biodiversity.