Grants worth hundreds of thousands of pounds help restore and promote South Yorkshire's natural spaces

A Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust workshop at Manor Lodge School. Photo: Helena Dolby
A Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust workshop at Manor Lodge School. Photo: Helena Dolby
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Hundreds of thousands of pounds is being spent to bring people closer to nature across South Yorkshire.

The Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust has secured grant funding for two projects that focus on conservation and community involvement.

It will use £514,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to help people living in Rotherham to better connect with their local green spaces.

And about £15,000 from the Veolia Environmental Trust has gone towards conservation work to protect Blacka Moor on the outskirts of Sheffield.

The trust is setting up a 'natural neighbours' scheme in Rotherham to focus on four areas: Sandhill Park, Rawmarsh; Winterhills, Kimberworth; Boston Park, near Canklow; and Eldon Road Recreation Ground, near Eastwood.

Some money will be spent on making the areas more welcoming, accessible and safe. But the bulk of the grant funding will go towards bringing more people to the green spaces through a programme of activities.

Blacka Moor. Photo: Helena Dolby

Blacka Moor. Photo: Helena Dolby

These will include workshops for youth and community groups, wild play sessions for schools and celebratory events such as art installations and photography exhibitions.

Trust community engagement and learning manager Linda Baldwin said: “Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund grant, we will be able to help local people shape and care for their green spaces, making them focal points for the community.

"People will be able to learn about the different habitats, how beneficial they are to the area and how together we can improve them and care for them in the future.

"We’re looking forward to working together with local communities and organisations to make these spaces more attractive so that everyone can enjoy what they offer and be inspired by nature.”

The Big Lottery Fund has awarded the trust 514,000 for the 'natural neighbour' project. Photo: Helena Dolby

The Big Lottery Fund has awarded the trust 514,000 for the 'natural neighbour' project. Photo: Helena Dolby

The Blacka Moor project, meanwhile, has now been completed after 12 months of work in three areas.

The first was repairing and replacing broken fencing and gates. This then allowed the trust to carry out 'conservation grazing', which prevents saplings and scrub taking over the heathland habitat while still allowing safe access to the public.

Second was controlling invasive species such as bracken and rhododendron.

And finally the money enabled the trust to cut two long 'firebreaks' into mature areas of heather in order to reduce the risk of wildfire spreading across the moor.

Blacka Moor is part of a site of special scientific interest. Photo: Helena Dolby

Blacka Moor is part of a site of special scientific interest. Photo: Helena Dolby

The 181-hectare Blacka Moor is the biggest of the trust's reserves, and forms part of an internationally-important wild landscape designated as a site of special scientific interest.

Trust living landscapes manager for the south Nabil Abbas said: “Blacka Moor is a real gem amongst Sheffield’s green spaces.

"Its location right on the edge of the city and its rich array of wildlife make it a unique place.

"Thanks to this year-long conservation project we’ve been able to restore the threatened moorland habitat, providing a home for unusual upland species including common lizard, whinchat and green hairstreak butterfly.”

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