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Dearne Valley Green Heart Nature Improvement Area celebrates 1st anniversary

Last modified: 26 March 2013

Young otter at Leighton Moss

The Dearne Valley is the ideal location to demonstrate how people and nature can live together in the same landscape in a sustainable way.

Image: Dave Hall

Representatives from a major conservation project in South Yorkshire are attending a special event in London today to celebrate the first anniversary of England’s Nature Improvement Area (NIA) programme.

The Dearne Valley Green Heart Nature Improvement Area (NIA) – situated in the centre of the former South Yorkshire coalfield - is one of 12 partnership projects, which were created a year ago following an extremely competitive bidding process for a share of £7.5million new funding from Defra and Natural England.

The aim of the NIA projects is for local partnerships to improve the landscape for people and nature through restoring, expanding and joining up wildlife-rich areas.

In the Dearne Valley the additional £559,980 funding from the NIA has given the project partners the means to step up their programme of woodland and wetland restoration in the area, as well their programme of community engagement.

Since the Dearne Valley Green Heart Nature Improvement Area was created in April 2012, the project has:

·  Secured an additional £1.8million of Heritage Lottery Funding for the Dearne Valley

·  Planted nearly 3,000 native trees at the reclaimed colliery site, Barnsley Main

·  Worked with Yorkshire Water and other partners to agree a 20 year management plan to tackle pollution issues on the most polluted water course in the area, Cudworth Dyke

·  Developed new wildlife-friendly farming schemes to help farm businesses support and create wildlife habitats.

·  Worked with Barnsley Council to create several  wildlife rich meadows

·  Engaged with more than 1,000 children across 12 local schools around nature conservation and involved dozens of local people on “Hidden Gems “ walks in the Valley

·  Recruited two community rangers to work with local communities and lead practical conservation work

At today’s event Pete Wall, Project Manager for the Dearne Valley Green Heart NIA will be presenting these achievements to an audience which includes Environment Minister Richard Benyon, Professor Sir John Lawton and Natural England chair Poul Christensen.

Commenting on the first year of the Dearne Valley Green Heart Nature Improvement Area, Pete Wall said: “The past 12 months have seen a flurry of activity across the Dearne. All of the partners have been working hard together to make the area an even better place for nature where local people and visitors can relax and enjoy the great outdoors.   

“Over the coming year, the partnership has an equally packed work programme planned including reaching agreements with local landowners to create two new nature reserves, undertaking practical conservation work on the Cudworth Dyke, as well as creating more woodland and wildflower meadows. We also have plans to engage even more young people through our field teaching and community rangers.”

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