Sheffield’s green landscapes have disappeared over decades

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A WILDLIFE charity has launched a bid to reverse decades of decline in green spaces as newly-published research sheds light on Sheffield’s “vanishing” grasslands.

Analysis of records from 1980 to 2001 indicate the city lost 75.5 per cent of its unimproved semi-natural lowland grassland in just over 20 years and the number has been falling steadily ever since.

Between 1930 and 1984, an estimated 97 per cent of semi-natural lowland grassland in England and Wales was lost. During the 1980s and 1990s, losses continued at a rate of between two per cent and 10 per cent in various parts of England.

While it is a national trend, the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust has said local surveys indicate that in the South Yorkshire city – credited with having more trees per person than any other in the UK – the loss has been even greater.

In response, it has unveiled proposals to create a new urban nature reserve through the restoration of nine hectares of wildflower meadow at Carbrook Ravine, one of the most urban nature reserves in the south east of Sheffield, including the old playing fields of the former Stradbroke College.

“We want to reverse the decline of our grassland habitats and ensure future generations are able to enjoy the scents, sights and sounds of our glorious wildflower meadows,” said fundraising officer Chris Grice.

The trust has been awarded a Government grant towards the cost of wildflower seed to plant, but must raise £20,000 towards ground preparations, weed control and seeding in the coming months to access the cash. It is hoped a public appeal will help the charity reach its target in order to begin work this autumn.

Meanwhile, councillors in West Yorkshire have just awarded £50,00 to Dewsbury Country Park as part of a bigger scheme to make the former landfill site the largest new woodland in the North of England.