Nidderdale AONB has been used for agriculture in one way or another since human habitation began. Therefore, farming has created the landscape we see today. The monastic abbeys were reknowned for their sheep farming, although deer at Studley and Fountains are now a more common sight. The monks built granges in the area from which the lay-brothers would work the land and look after the sheep. Some of the drovers tracks that were used by the shepherds to drive the sheep back on to the moor after shearing can still be seen on maps today.
Livestock rearing remains as the main agricultural industry in the AONB today.