Well, the whole of the Dearne Valley actually.
This week has been rather momentous for local conservation with the news that the Dearne Valley has been chosen by the Government to become a flagship Nature Improvement Area (or NIA).
NIAs are a new approach for the Government, designed to create a landscape scale approach to environmental conservation through the creation of robust ecological networks.
It is something that both the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts have been advocating for some time (we call them futurescapes, the Trusts call them Living Landscapes) and it acknowledges that we cannot buffer the effects of climate change or help species recovery simply by working within the boundaries of protected areas such as nature reserves. Instead, we need to get out there and work with others to improve the whole area and make viable links and habitat corridors to join the key protected areas.
The Dearne Valley has already been designated as an RSPB Futurescape and this week we found out that we were one of just 12 areas to successfully get through the NIA selection process. Over 80 areas applied and the final 12 includes some of the most iconic wildlife landscapes in England. So we are in exalted company.
Our strength lies in the fact that firstly, we have an incredibly strong local partnership with amongst others, Natural England, Barnsley and Rotherham Councils, Groundwork Dearne Valley, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, The Garganey Trust (who manage Broomhill Flash), Forestry Commission and The Environment Agency. And secondly, while our landscape is not iconic in the sense of the South Downs or Morecombe Bay, it has come such a long way since the end of coal mining and has bags of potential to develop further and genuinely connect people to nature.
NIA status will give us access to all sorts of profile and information, but crucially, it also comes with more than £500,000 over the next three years to fund a range of projects in the Valley. And even better, it will help us to lever in further funding - success breeds success!
Pete Wall (who you will remember is overseeing developments at Adwick) will lead on the NIA on behalf of all the partners. We already have a huge menu of potential projects to link people better to the landscape they live in, create new paths and infrastructre, undertake education outreach, map the biodiversity of the whole Valley and improve and create new habitats across the area. We will keep you informed of progress with all the exciting things as they happen..
Elsewhere, the Dark Peak Area of the Peak District National Park (a project the RSPB will also lead on) and the Humberhead Levels (that will include Blacktoft Sands and RSPB involvement) have both also got through the process.
So Congratulations to Pete and the other partners for leading the Dearne bid to success and also to our neighbouring NIAs - it is a great week for local conservation!
Well done! What great news.......and I agree with Bridgeman......Eric and I are not experts in birds but Old Moor is our fav place to spend a few hours......we have picked things up bit by bit, love to chat with people like Titchers and Nicola and Jo and others who work and volunteer there.....and for me it's my gym.....I get excercise by walking round the reserve, fresh air in my lungs and generally have a great time......and from now on when Eric does his trudge, you will find me at OM having a great time.........
What excellent news - well done to everyone involved.
I am convinced that Old Moor is having a real impact on people as well as wildlife - the place is always busy and overhearing odd snippets of conversation, there seem to be lots of visitors who are not experts but just like being out and about and appear to see OM as a place to do just that ... and pick up a bit of info about birds and wildlife along the way!
The more people who value places like OM, the greater the support for, and the chances of, making wider improvments to the environment.