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Dearne Valley Green Heart Partnership

Dearne Valley Green Heart PartnershipHarvest mouse © Amy Lewis

Heavy industry and coal mining has left the Dearne Valley of South Yorkshire heavily scarred and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is working hard to restore this thriving community into a paradise for nature.

About the Dearne Valley

The Dearne Valley is a landscape that has been left scarred by coal mining and heavy industry. However, the people that live here have the enthusiasm and want to work together to transform their local environment. They want to generate new jobs and to create a great naturally beautiful place to live and work and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is working with them to help this beautiful valley become a nature haven once more.

About the Dearne Valley Green Heart Nature Improvement Area

The ethos of the Nature Improvement Area was Bigger, Better, More and Joined up, this is achieved through habitat improvement, habitat creation and habitat corridors. The Nature Improvement Area helped local people deliver their vision to restore the ecological functionality of the river, its floodplain and its link to habitats on surrounding sandstone and limestone hills. Our vision was to create a 1300ha core of wetland and woodland habitats. This was buffered by 2690ha of open land and reclaimed industrial areas whose biodiversity areas will be enhanced. This linked up core areas and target farmland areas of poor ecological functionality covering 1700ha.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust worked with the RSPB to survey the area for focal Riparian Mammal species, including water vole, harvest mice, otters and water shrew. Each of these species is in need of conservation effort in one way or another; the harvest mouse has suffered a decline due to changes in land management and agricultural processes, the water vole has suffered severe population declines due to loss of habitat and the invasive American mink, the water shrew is the most understudied mammalian species with little information known and finally the Otter is starting to make a comeback after a decline in population. These species require constant monitoring to track population changes and habitat management to improve the existing population habitat and also to join up and create new areas to encourage individuals to occupy new areas.

How you can get involved - practical work days

The survey season has come to an end and we are happy to have had people come along and learn. The Trust carried out water vole surveys earlier this year as Dearne Valley has always historically had a strong water vole population. Water voles have had a really hard time over the last few decades and a nationwide survey carried out in 1997 showed that water voles had vanished from 95 per cent of their habitats. However, they have had a good couple of breeding years recently so their numbers are starting to increase again. We had good numbers of records this year and couldn't have done it without the help from our volunteers.

Now though we have started practical task days and are working in partnership with BMBC to manage a number of different sites in the Dearne Valley in an exciting new partnership. We are running these events every Friday starting at 10am and anyone can take part, just get in touch to find out more.

If you might be interested in getting involved in work days in Barnsley now or in the future please email, for more information on the project generally contact Pete Wall at or call 01302 853 941 for both.