Wildlife workshops connect South Yorkshire residents back to nature

28 February 2017

People in South Yorkshire are being urged to make the most of their local woodlands and connect with their natural surroundings.

A series of ecological and wildlife training workshops will take place at woodlands across the Dearne Valley as part of a project by the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (DVLP) to encourage people to reconnect with nature on their doorstep.

The workshops will cover a wide range of wildlife themes to help promote biodiversity and sensitive management of priority woodlands in the Dearne Valley. These include identification and survey workshops, learning about amphibian and reptiles, bird and bat surveys along with winter tree and woodland plant identification. All these will be combined with workshops helping the local community to interpret and understand the woodlands and past heritage of many sites.

The public workshops, suitable for all ages and skill levels, will be delivered by the DVLP, in partnership with consultant ecologists Haycock & Jay Associates Ltd, as part of a two-year survey and training programme.

Roseanna Burton, community officer at the DVLP, said: “There are many semi-ancient woodlands in the Dearne Valley that are of local and national significance for biodiversity. We’re encouraging people in South Yorkshire to play a part in protecting and enhancing such sites to help to conserve rare and vulnerable habitats and species that inhabit them.

“We have workshops suitable for families and children, as well as those that cater for specialists with an interest in natural history. These workshops will help us provide new opportunities and develop new survey skills within the local community and obtain more wildlife records for local biological records centres to aid future protection.”

As well as developing the training and survey programme, Haycock and Jay Associates Ltd will be helping to develop new conservation management plans to ensure future protection of the woodlands.

Steven Heaton, a botanist and ecologist with the company, said: “We are delighted to be working with the DVLP on this engagement project across the Dearne Valley.

“We have experience of working on projects at sites across the UK but this one is particularly important to us as it involves the local community. Our aim is to encourage them to get involved in biological recording in their area and to take an interest in the heritage of their local woodlands.”

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership is a five-year programme which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, thanks to National Lottery players.

This project aims to encourage people to explore and protect their local woodlands building on a number of similar initiatives delivered by the DVLP in South Yorkshire in 2016. These have included hosting a nature discovery weekend at Wombwell Woods in Barnsley designed to boost mental health and reconnect people to nature. In October 2016, the DVLP also awarded funding to a ‘Men’s Shed’ project to encourage men to work together to learn about wood and understand more about its role within the natural environment.

The workshops will be held at Howell Wood between Goldthorpe and South Kirby, Wath Wood in Wath-upon-Dearne, Wombwell Woods, Potters Hole Plantation near Tankersley and West Haigh Woods near Grimethorpe. Full details of how to get involved or to attend an event can be found on the DVLP website: www.discoverdearne.org.uk

Notes to editor

Photograph shows Roseanna Burton, community officer at the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership.

For more information about the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership, contact Sally Gawthorpe on 01226 772131 or SallyGawthorpe@barnsley.gov.uk.

Additional media contact: Charlotte Goldthorpe at Capital B Media on 01226 766900 or at charlotte@capitalbmedia.co.uk

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (DVLP) is a five-year scheme, running until June 2019 focusing on the historic buildings and landscapes of the Dearne Valley, working with the local communities to protect, preserve and enhance the area. The DVLP is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund with a grant of almost £1.8m. For more information visit www.discoverdearne.org.uk

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery @HLFYandH

The lead partner of the DVLP is Barnsley Council with a partnership that includes Rotherham and Doncaster Councils, the RSPB, Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Garganey Trust and Groundwork South Yorkshire. The DVLP is hosted by Barnsley Museums and based at Elsecar Heritage Centre.

Haycock and Jay Associates Ltd is an established and highly regarded group of professional ecologists based in Otley in the heart of Yorkshire, working throughout the north of England, Wales and Scotland.

Its core team of six experienced ecologists delivers a wide range of ecological services to clients across the UK including Natural England, Environment Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, National Trust and Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Haycock and Jay Associates are specialists in surveying, monitoring and advising on bats, reptiles, amphibians, otters, water voles and botany (including bryophytes).

They also work on large-scale habitat mapping including catchment scale river surveys, UK BAP habitat mapping, condition assessment, national vegetation classification (NVC) and woodland surveys.

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