Restoration of Stradbroke College Site

Wednesday 13th May 2015

Ploughing a furrow for wildflower seedPloughing a furrow for wildflower seed on site of old college

Ox eye daisies will bloom again on the site of the old Stradbroke Sixth Form College as well as lady’s bedstraw, meadow buttercup and wild red clover. These are just a few of the wild flower seeds sown on this extension of the Carbrook Ravine nature reserve.

The Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust lease and manage this area and have received funding to clear the site and restore it to a traditional hay meadow, expanding the area of ancient hay meadows on the nature reserve next door. Since the college was demolished in 2007 the site had deteriorated and was strewn with rubbish and taken over by invasive plant species.

Contractors and machinery were needed, but also local volunteers were enlisted for ongoing maintenance.

The work was partly funded by an individual legacy, as well as by Higher Level Stewardship funding, and by Wildlife Trust members. The Trust also received over £12,400 from Viridor Credits for this project.

In restoring the meadow the Wildlife Trust took account of the State of Nature report (2013), the first ever comprehensive “stock take” of UK wildlife, which reported that 60% of species have declined in the past 40 years, largely through loss of habitat. In the Sheffield and Rotherham area alone 75% of unimproved grassland has been lost since 1980.

The Stradbroke site at Carbrook is a target area for restoration in the Sheffield Grassland Habitat Action Plan and forms a significant part of the target to restore 85 hectares of grassland by 2016.

Restoring the area as a meadow will benefit local birdlife; the sparrowhawk, greenfinch, house martin, swallow, chiffchaff, willow warbler, willow tit, bullfinch, skylark and song thrush are all species included in the Local Biodiversity Action Plan, and are all present in the nearby Carbrook Ravine Nature Reserve. Their habitat will be expanded by restoring the Stradbroke site.

The meadow will also benefit the surrounding areas of Manor, Woodthorpe and Darnall. 39,000 people live there, who have free access to this inner city oasis.

“It’s fantastic that we have this opportunity to recreate colourful wildflower meadows on a disused site” said Wildlife Trust land manager, Nabil Abbas. “The existing ancient meadows at Carbrook date back hundreds of years to the medieval Sheffield Deer Park, so it’s great that we can add to them and create more habitat for the threatened species which live there”.