Overhead view of UGHILL FARM

Peak District farm near Sheffield secured for nature’s recovery

Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust has reached a major fundraising target of £1.2million to secure the purchase of Ughill Farm, an important site for curlews, lapwing, golden plover and other nationally threatened wading birds which come to our moors each spring in order to breed. 

Thanks to contributions from wildlife supporters, the local community and major funders, the Trust is now able to repay the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and take full ownership of the land in early 2024. The ambition is to use Ughill Farm’s 130 hectares to test and learn nature-friendly farming practices. Along with other nature friendly-farms in the region, they aim to demonstrate that commercially sound, sustainable farming can also enhance our wildlife and natural resources.

Liz Ballard, CEO of Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust says:
“This is an incredible achievement for Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust. We have been overwhelmed by the support from our community. I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who has contributed to this project and offered their support. Taking ownership of this land gets us a step closer to achieving our aim of ensuring that 30% of land and water is great for nature by 2030.”

Essential Support

The Trust highlighted the exceptionally generous support of the FCC Communities Foundation, the Veolia Environmental Trust, the Ecological Restoration Fund, the Banister Charitable Trust and the Swire Charitable Trust, as key to the success of the appeal. Liz is keen to point out that the real challenge is only just beginning:
“The real work starts now” she explains. “We are continuing our fundraising at wildsheffield.com/ughill and all gifts will enable us to continue our work setting up the farm for nature-friendly farming and nature’s recovery.”

Martin Reed, BASIS Environmental Adviser, says it’s thrilling to be able to get started:
“I am up at Ughill Farm every week now, and it is incredibly exciting to watch the land change with the seasons and to work with the team on plans for when the land comes under our full ownership. Our first priority is to stock proof the site so we can begin low density grazing with cattle and sheep in order to start food production and support biodiversity on the farm. We are also kicking off our baseline ecological monitoring programme, so we can measure changes to the land over the coming months and years.

Richard Smith, FCC Communities Foundation Senior Grant Manager, says
‘We are delighted to be able to assist Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust in their long term ambition to purchase Ughill Farm. It is an amazing location; the purchase will secure the future of the land for generations and will make a huge difference to the biodiversity of the area as well as being used to share sustainable farming techniques to the wider community.’

Caroline Schwaller MBE, Chair of the Veolia Environmental Trust said:
“We were delighted to donate to this project, which will put biodiversity and sustainability at the heart of agricultural practices in Sheffield. Supporting projects that have positive impacts on natural environments and communities is what the Veolia Environmental Trust champions and the Ughill Farm project is a fantastic example of combining ecology and economy by researching commercially viable and nature- positive practices. We look forward to seeing the progress at Ughill Farm and supporting many more similar projects.”

Protecting Wildlife

63 species of birds have been recorded on the site so far. It is also home to mammals such as brown hares, badgers, stoats and weasels, as well as a host of invertebrates (including small heath and wall butterflies – both species of high conservation priority), and an extensive list of wildflowers. Elsewhere in the area, curlew habitat has declined as a result of more intensive agriculture. Taking full ownership of the site means that work to set up the farm and proceed with nature recovery activities can now begin.