The RSPB is delighted to have received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for their ‘Giving Nature a Home in the Dearne’ project, which will benefit people and wildlife in the Dearne Valley.
Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to make the Dearne Valley, in South Yorkshire, even better for wildlife and also improve visitor facilities so the public can fully enjoy the wildlife spectacle.
The project will aim to enable people to learn and understand how the RSPB is giving nature a home and also provide help and information on how everyone can get involved in conservation and become more connected to nature. Development funding of £87,300 has been awarded to help the RSPB progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.
Matthew Capper, RSPB Senior Site Manager for the Dearne Valley, said: “We’re thrilled to receive this support from HLF, made possible thanks to National Lottery players. This project will really help us to further improve the already wonderful wildlife experience in the Dearne Valley and, along with it, the experience our visitors have.
“We hope people will come to the Valley to learn and engage with natural heritage and tell the story of the local area. We will also be increasing the opportunities for volunteering and training to support conservation.”
The Dearne Valley was once at the heart of the South Yorkshire coal mining industry, but the landscape has since been extensively regenerated, leaving few physical signs of the industry that once dominated the area. The RSPB first took on land in South Yorkshire in 2003 and now manages a chain of seven - largely wetland - sites for conservation in the Valley, totalling 315 hectares.
At the heart of the valley is RSPB Old Moor, leased from Barnsley Council, a success story built on the idea of creating a nature reserve as much for people as for wildlife. Old Moor has played an important role in the regeneration of the area and now receives over 100,000 visitors every year and 3,000 school children, along with 65 active volunteers who help to deliver vital work at the site. Just north-west of Old Moor is Wombwell Ings, another important site, which supports many threatened wading birds, including lapwings.
The network of reserves in the Dearne Valley is now home to some of the rarest and most threatened wildlife in the UK, and what was once one of the most polluted ex-industrial sites in Western Europe is now home to over 2,000 different species.
Matthew added: “The whole Valley is rich in culture and tradition, with a unique mix of industrial and natural heritage. This is a place where despite slag heaps, a once lifeless river and the pollution associated with the coal industry, wildlife has flourished. Old Moor has a unique mix of industrial heritage and a fascinating story of local people working together to make a difference to their local environment.”
David Renwick, Head of HLF Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Wombwell Ings and Old Moor are a key part of this fascinating network of nature reserves. The combination of rare natural heritage and mining history is a great reflection of the local area as a whole, and we are delighted that National Lottery players can support the preservation of these sites. We look forward to seeing the detailed project proposals in due course”.