Sheffield wildlife campaigners warn over species at risk in city as Government sets nature targets

Sheffield wildlife campaigners are warning more needs to be done to protect the city’s natural environment – with several species at risk.

Friday, 6th May 2022, 7:30 pm

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust has warned some species have almost disappeared from the city, and fears Government measures to set legally bindging targets for the recovery of nature have fallen short.

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The trust manages 15 nature reserves including Greno Woods, near Grenoside, Wyming Brook, near Lodge Moor, and Blacka Moor, near Totley.

Sheffield wildlife campaigners are warning more needs to be done to protect the city’s natural environment – with several species at risk. Michael Gove with tree protestor Dr Nicky Rivers at a meeting in Sheffield. Picture Scott Merrylees

Monday marks six months since the new Environment Act was passed – the first dedicated environmental legislation for nearly 30 years and the first time England has set legally binding targets for nature’s recovery.

That date will see consultation close on how ambitious these targets will be – and the trust is backing a petition calling on minsters to set high figures.

The long-term target currently being proposed for nature’s recovery aims to have just 10 per cent more nature in 2042 than 2030 levels – but campaigners say by then nature may have declined even further, and fear it could mean less wildlife by 2042 than there it is now.

Dr Nicky Rivers, Living Landscape Development Manager at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust said: “There has never been a more important time to take action for nature, but unfortunately the government’s targets just don’t go far enough to halt the decline.

Sheffield wildlife campaigners are warning more needs to be done to protect the city’s natural environment . Turtle doves are at risk in Sheffield. Picture: Amy Lewis

Cuckoo, ring ouzel, nightjar, peregrine falcon and mountain hare at risk

“Locally in Sheffield and Rotherham we’re seeing the near-disappearance of several species such as white clawed crayfish, turtle dove and water vole. Key species such as cuckoo, ring ouzel, nightjar, peregrine falcon and mountain hare are at risk from disturbance and, in some cases, persecution.

“Our Sheffield moors are internationally protected habitats that support important local wildlife. In particular, the South Pennine and Peak District Moors are a globally important area for birds “in danger” – one of only two sites identified as such in the UK – meaning the threat level to important upland species there is very high and in need of immediate action to prevent them from being lost.

Bee on cow parsley, Sunnybank NR, Sheffield City Centre. Sheffield wildlife campaigners are warning more needs to be done to protect the city’s natural environment. PIcture: Paul Hobson

“One of the constant pressures upon our wildlife resources comes via the development of land, such as housing, roads or industry. Whilst some of these may offer biodiversity gains, there are many which could lead to an overall loss of wildlife or site integrity.

“Nature Recovery groups in Sheffield and Rotherham are doing our bit for local wildlife, but we also need the government to properly legislate through the Environment Act. We’re calling on everyone to demand more for nature and sign the petition.”

Rebecca Pow MP, Minister for Nature Recovery and the Domestic Environment said:

“We are already consulting on ambitious, world-leading targets, based on the latest science.

“Through the Environment Act, we will deliver the most ambitious environment programme of any country on earth, supported by a legally binding target to halt species decline in England by 2030.

“We are committed to leaving the environment in a better state and we welcome any further evidence submitted to our consultation to support that.”