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The Steel Valley Greenspace Project - sustainability and the regeneration of the existing green spaces and domestic gardens within the built-up area


panorama of Stocksbridge

Biodiversity is an important factor in enhancing sustainability

Concern for the natural environment along with the need to improve the economic and social aspects of life are essential components of developing a sustainable future for any settlement. The economic and social factors are addressed on the sustainability webpage here we look at the ecology of the area..

The Steel Valley Project (SVP) team has become more involved in habitat management and creation in recent years. This reflects the growing alarm in Britain about the decrease in biodiversity in the countryside as well as urban areas. Nationally we have been fairly good about identifying and preserving the best of our remaining natural habitats - identifying them as islands of land to be conserved and from which development has been excluded. However, until recently the role played by the rest of the countryside and the unbuilt land within cities in supporting biodiversity has been ignored.

In Stocksbridge the Steel Valley Project team have been trying to redress this imbalance by identifying the potential to enhance biodiversity. They have been working on the countryside and more recently in the built-up area to develop ideas, approaches and schemes, which should eventually mean that a more sustainable local environment develops to support biodiversity, as well as people's needs

The Stocksbridge Ecology Study - 2000

In 2000 twelve sites of ecological interest were identified by Jim Flanagan who worked with SVP as an ecologist at that time. These were studied in detail.

click for greenspace audit information The Green Space Audit
- click for information about each site with maps and photographs

There are also several sites of local and regional value for their scientific interest as shown in this diagram - click for details about local natural environment.

nature conservation sites in Stocksbridge

The role of the garden in enhancing local biodiversity in built up areas

BUGS - Biodiversity in Urban gardens

For more information about biodiversity in urban areas see the data from the local BUGS project.

The project was based in the University of Sheffield and concentrated on trying to understand the potential role of domestic gardens in supporting high levels of biodiversity within urban areas.

The findings showed that city gardens which were managed so that they supported lots of ground cover, shrubs, ponds, herbaceous plants and trees, rather than those which consist of nothing more than an area of mown grass or paving, were much richer in biodiversity than most countryside areas.

Our gardens are an untapped resource which can be changed by their owners to become rich in habitats capable of supporting wildlife.

How to make wildlife gardens -guidance from the Royal Horticultural Society and the BBC's information on how to garden for wildlife

The relevance of the BUGS information to planning and design as well as community action in Stocksbridge

The BUGS study is important to landscape management within Stocksbridge. It shows that the natural/ or 'wild' landscape type, often presented by nature conservation-based landscape managers as the solution to enhancing the biodiversity value of a greenspace, is not the only landscape type that supports biodiversity. The fact that gardens can be so rich a support for biodiversity means that we can choose the landscape type that is appropriate for our local open greenspace and that we can mix the landscape types we use in urban areas. This overcomes many of the problems that people have had, in that they do not want untidy looking greenspace on their doorstep, although they like nature. A gradation of landscape types (from looking 'wild' to gardenesque) could be used within Stocksbridge - it is up to local people to decide what they find appropriate. An individual greenspace can support several different landscape types - it is a design problem, but it is also a financial problem as a gardenesque landscape costs more to make and takes much more effort by the local community if they are to be looked after properly.

The way that local unbuilt land is used and managed (private gardens as well as public open green spaces) needs to change, if levels of biodiversity are to be increased. Such change can only benefit the local people by adding to their quality of life (contact with nature and the everyday use of attractive places have been shown to be factors enhancing people's experience of their home environment).



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ARC, Manchester Road, Stocksbridge, S36 2DT
Telephone 0114 - 2830880
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latest update 20 Jan 06