Woodhouse Washlands wildflower patch © N Abbas

New initiative to improve understanding of local natural environment receives National Lottery support

Data for Nature – a new Heritage Lottery-funded initiative run by Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust – will help to increase understanding of the wildlife and habitats in nature reserves across Sheffield and Rotherham, addressing one of the key recommendations of the Sheffield State of Nature report: to address gaps in the city’s ecological data.

Published in April, the Sheffield State of Nature report, as well as showcasing Sheffield’s impressive array of natural habitats, highlighted just how much is not known about the city’s natural environment and the wildlife it supports. The report recommended more structured ecological surveys and citizen science projects to help collect better data on the city’s wildlife and its habitats.

Heritage Lottery Fund

Data for Nature aims to address this by improving the quality of ecological monitoring and data collection on Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves over eighteen months, resulting in a more evidence-based approach to management.

Thanks to money raised by national Lottery players, a £100,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project will create and implement a robust monitoring framework, increasing capacity to collect data on nature reserves and engaging with local people to increase awareness and engagement in citizen science.

Through the project, new monitoring protocols will be designed for key species and habitats across Sheffield and Rotherham, including willow tit, harvest mouse and important bog habitats at Agden Bog and Blacka Moor nature reserves.

The Trust is looking for enthusiastic local people to join a network of regular volunteers who will visit nature reserves and carry out activities such as bird surveys and habitat condition assessments, as well as volunteers to help with data input and analysis.

In-depth training in monitoring techniques, data management and analysis will be provided by the Trust to help volunteers develop the ecological and surveying skills necessary for these voluntary roles.

Pete Tomlin, Data for Nature Senior Data Management & Monitoring Officer at Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust, said:

“Data for Nature is an exciting project, enabling Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust to make a greater impact in the fight to save our beleaguered wildlife. Through a greater understanding of the role of our nature reserves in the landscape, the key species which our sites house, and the drivers of change affecting these species, we will be able to implement more effective, evidence-based habitat management.

“We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund, for providing the funding to carry out this important work, and of course to the volunteers who are working on the project, collecting the all-important data.”

If you are interested in volunteering with Data for Nature, please contact Julie Riley, Data for Nature Volunteering Officer, at j.riley@wildsheffield.com. For more information on the project, visit wildsheffield.com/datafornature