Living Don

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The Living Don is Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust's contribution to the general shift towards creating and conserving large scale, networks of connected habitats through a ‘Living Landscape’ or ‘Ecosystem Approach’.

The move to this approach is partly driven in response to climate change, but also due to greater awareness of the importance of ‘ecosystem services’ – the public goods and services that natural areas provide – and the need for high quality green infrastructure.

The River Don itself forms the spine of the programme. The river flows from its headwaters in the Peak District, through South Yorkshire before joining the Humber. The programme area is essentially the Upper Don Basin within South Yorkshire - upstream of Sprotbrough, Doncaster. A partnership project ‘The Living Don’, led by Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, is working to enhance a number of ecological networks or ‘Living Landscape’ areas by creating or enhancing habitats, naturalising water bodies and improving green infrastructure such as footpath links and cycleways. Community engagement is central to all these activities to ensure local needs are met and the Living Landscape is sustainable for the future.


The Living Don aims to enhance and expand a series of interconnected ecological networks, from the headwaters of the River Don via the urban centres of Sheffield and Rotherham as far as Sprotbrough, Doncaster to provide enhanced ecological services for people and a landscape rich in biodiversity and heritage.


To return the River Don corridor and its tributaries to valued and cherished status in the socio-economic future of South Yorkshire. This will extend from the headwaters in the west through to Sprotbrough in the east. The River Don and its tributaries played a significant role in the industrial development of Sheffield and Rotherham. Improving the ecological functionality and embedding the River Don and tributaries in the lives of adjacent communities will ensure a role for them in the future of South Yorkshire.

These aims will be achieved through building fish passes, habitat management, environmental enhancement of key sites including access improvements, land management advice and management planning, public awareness raising and community engagement and learning.

Potential Benefits
  • Flood risk reduction
  • Reduced urban heat island effect
  • Increased water availability at times of drought
  • Environmental improvements to former/current industrial areas
  • Increased local access to nature and outdoor recreational opportunities
  • Biodiversity enhancement
  • Increased resilience to climate change
  • Improved green transport networks
  • Improved recreation opportunities and community engagement
  • Health and quality of life benefits from access to nature including those from socially deprived areas
  • Civic pride and a sense of place