Nature Counts

Orange-tip butterfly on bluebells (c)Richard Bowler(c) Adam Cormack

Through collaborative citizen science involving volunteers, the general public and expert biological recorders, our exciting two-year project will collect and collate data on Sheffield’s key species and habitats to produce an innovative State Of Nature report for Sheffield.

As the greenest city in Europe, Sheffield has a lot to shout about. Nature Counts will give us an important overview of how the City’s wildlife is faring. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project will also support and train new volunteers to learn skills of biological recording and field surveying.

Conservation is driven by knowing how rare or common things are, where they are and how they function in their environment. This information is based on records of what is where, when, and in what numbers. The Sheffield area is one of the most well recorded places in the world, but even so, critical knowledge gaps exist for key species and habitats. The project will collate and review existing survey data, reports and records for priority species and habitats as well as conducting further priority ecological surveys in key habitats and sites. The Sheffield State of Nature report (2018) will interpret these new and existing data to give Sheffield’s natural heritage a ‘health check’ and address additional gaps in data and survey efforts.

Recording Sheffield's Wildlife

(c) Tom Marshall

Nature Counts will train, educate, guide and inspire more people to record wildlife sightings around Sheffield. The project aims to involve the general public, so there will be many ways to get involved and to help count local wildlife. Our aim is to engage Trust members, volunteers and other local natural history groups in monitoring, protecting and celebrating Sheffield’s wildlife. We will be collaborating with key local organisations, including the City Council, Sheffield’s Universities, the Weston Park Museum, Sorby Natural History Society ( as well as numerous local environmental groups, all of whom bring valuable knowledge and experience to such an undertaking.

Sara Blackburn, Project Coordinator, is inspired by the scope of the report. “Establishing wildlife numbers is a critical element of nature conservation – without understanding whether a species is stable, increasing or declining, we are unable to take action to protect it. We will be focussing on some exciting and important species throughout this project, including elusive otters and endearing hedgehogs, and I for one can’t wait to see how these flagship mammals are doing. I’m also excited about tapping into our existing databases and working alongside the many individuals and groups helping with the project to draw together and celebrate the City’s natural heritage.”

Paul Richards, Engagement Officer for Nature Counts, said: “There is nothing I would rather do than record species and motivate other people to do the same. My enthusiasm to share skills and involve people in recording in only matched by my desire to be out looking for new things and learning more for myself. I am particularly evangelistic about showing that Sheffield is a fantastic place to do this.

"It’s vital we have a more accurate account of the wildlife present in Sheffield - including birds, butterflies and insects - so that we can better monitor changes and to inform our work to improve their habitat. Sheffield people can help by recording the animals in their back gardens, as well as getting involved in more challenging surveys." 

The culmination of Nature Counts will be a museum exhibition and an event to disseminate our State of Nature report and celebrate Sheffield’s rich natural heritage, as well as show how nature can thrive in an urban context. The report will also inform new conservation plans, influence policy makers and generate action to better conserve and restore our local wildlife and natural resources.

(c) Elliot SmithExciting Projects

Alongside extended recording efforts, Nature Counts is focusing on three exciting sub-projects.

‘Otterly Amazing!’ is working to track the City’s elusive otters with the help of camera traps and state-of-the-art DNA analyses.

Otter footage update! We are delighted to announce that we have captured excellent footage of otters living in the River Don as part of our Nature Counts project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund! This footage confirms the presence of this magical species. View one of the videos below:



(c) Jon Hawkins

Our 'Otterly Amazing' appeal has also been supported by Garfield Weston, the Banister Charitable Trust, Yorkshire Water and you, our supporters. You can read more about the appeal here. This is incredibly exciting and we're now working with our dedicated team of volunteers to monitor the otters more closely to find out more about them. Our camera surveys have been made possible through a generous donation from Pakatak with additional cameras and support given by Thomas Jacks, NatureSpy and Camera King

It's really important we protect these shy and elusive creatures from any interference so we can't divulge their location - they are also protected from disturbance by law. Watch this space for further updates and follow us on facebook and twitter (@wildsheffield) for updates tagged with #nature counts

(c) Paul Hobson

True Bluebells is our new project for 2017, focusing on the hybridisation of our native British bluebells with the encroaching Spanish variety. The project will focus primarily on documenting the extent of hybridisation in our precious ancient woodlands. This will allow us to carry out essential conservation work in key areas to protect and conserve our beautiful bluebell woods. In the spring and early summer we’ll also be engaging with the general public to both celebrate and protect the UK’s most loved flower. To read more about our True Bluebells project, click here

Our Hedgehogs Heroes involves asking the public to help count, and protect, our beloved garden hedgehogs to assess if our local populations have suffered the same decline as elsewhere in the country. During 2016 we collected almost 400 hedgehog records thanks to a great response from the general public. The project is still ongoing in 2017 and we will be extending our work to conduct hedgehog surveys on our reserves. You can read more about our work surveying and standing up for hedgehogs here. We're still interested in your hedgehog records, so if you've seen a hedgehog, please tell us about it here.

Help us to Count Nature!

How much we learn about the current status of Sheffield’s wildlife depends on you! We need volunteers to help us count everything from otters to bumblebees. We’d love you to get involved, and will be holding a number of training and engagement events to help you participate in this important work. 

You can play a part today by helping us to record hedgehog sightings. Over the coming months we’ll be posting news on events, training days and project activities, so watch this space!

Upcoming events

Over the coming months we will be holding a number of training workshops and events which will be listed on our events page. Also listed are upcoming events from partners and supporters of the Nature Counts iniative. Click here to view the events page.

The two-year Nature Counts partnership project culminates with the publication of the Sheffield State of Nature report (2018). We will be launching the report at a public event on the evening of 27 April 2018. Visit for more information on the launch event and the report.

For more information on Nature Counts, including volunteering, contact our team on 0114 2792663 or email: