South Yorkshire natural history project wins prestigious biological recording award!

We were delighted to see a Yorkshire project win the Lynne Farrell Group Award at the UK Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing at the NBN Conference in Cardiff last month! 

The Dearne Valley Wildlife Partnership (DVLP) received the award in recognition of their fantastic work with local natural history societies, engaging local communities in appreciating, recording and conserving local wildlife and habitats.  Project officer Roseanna Burton tells us all about it.

The DVLP is a five year Heritage Lottery Funded project, running until June 2019.  The Dearne Valley is located in the eastern Pennine foothills of South Yorkshire, between Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster and covers an area of 177 km2.  It is a semi-rural landscape with a wealth of historic buildings, culture, archaeology, semi-ancient woodlands, brownfield, grasslands and wetlands with the river Dearne at its heart.  The landscape, geology and geography mean it has been at the heart of industrial development over thousands of years.  Coal mining, glassworks, potteries and ironworks have had a huge impact on the landscape and communities of the Dearne Valley.

The DVLP works with local groups to celebrate the wealth of built and natural heritage, to conserve, protect, sustain and enhance such features with over thirty different projects delivered by a small team of five based at Elsecar Heritage Centre.  One of the most successful projects to date is the environmental programme delivered by Roseanna Burton with a wide range of organisations and individuals, most notably Derek Whiteley and other naturalists from Sorby Natural History Society, an affiliated society of the YNU.

The project has a broad habitat focus, exploring semi-ancient woodlands, grass verges and former colliery sites supporting a fantastic open mosaic of habitats.  The aim is to support the local community to inspire, educate and inform individuals to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of wildlife in their local area.  

A big emphasis has been on bringing experts and the local community together to help ‘Train the Next Generation of Naturalists’ via a wide range of wildlife identification and survey workshops.  These workshops cover a variety of species groups and skill levels, aiming to fill gaps in biological data.  This information is then used to help landowners and partners understand how best to manage their sites for the benefit of biodiversity, involving the community where possible.  Our key achievements to date include submitting approximately 10,000 new biological records (some new and rare species!),  training over 500 people in wildlife survey and species ID, delivering over 150 site surveys and specialist recording days and running over 30 free training workshops …with more planned for 2018!  

Big thank you to all our fantastic partners and volunteers for all their hard work!  If you would like to learn more about the DVLP and take advantage of our training sessions please visit our website at We are also on Twitter @DiscoverDearne and Facebook as ‘Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership’.

Photos: Roseanna Burton (DVLP) and Derek Whiteley (Sorby Natural History Society) receiving their award from Professor Michael Hassell, Chairman of the NBN Trust. Photo by Mark Hawkins (top left).  Participants on species ID workshops and recording days, photos by Roseanna Burton and Derek Whiteley.

(9th December 2017)