Sheffield, England Biodiversity Action Plan

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Sheffield, England

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Type: Policy

Status: Adopted in 2002

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Biological diversity (or biodiversity) encompasses the whole variety of life on Earth, from the commonplace to the critically endangered, including all species of plants and animals, their genetic variation, and the complex ecosystems that they form a part of. The United Kingdom was one of 150 signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity, at the "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, demonstrating the UK's commitment to helping to halt the current global loss of animal and plant species and genetic resources.

On a global scale, biodiversity is an essential component of all our lives because it provides the support systems that sustain us, maintaining supplies of air, water, food and clothing, and providing spiritual benefits. Locally, biodiversity gives distinctive character to an area, and in towns and cities wildlife habitats can contribute significantly to the quality of our lives.

The UK has lost over 100 species of plants and animals during the last century, and many more habitats and species are threatened with extinction, especially at a local level. In Sheffield, many species and habitats that were once common have now vanished or are declining rapidly.

Following on from the Biodiversity Convention, the UK Biodiversity Steering Group produced a National Biodiversity Action Plan, which included costed targets for the most threatened and declining species and habitats. The Steering Group also promoted

Local Biodiversity Action Plans as a means of implementing the national Plan. Local Biodiversity Action Plans (LBAPS) translate national targets for species and habitats into effective action at the local level, and also identify appropriate targets for the local area, reflecting the values of local people. LBAPs aim to meet their targets by raising local people's awareness of the need for biodiversity conservation, and by focusing available resources for the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity through the development of long-term local partnerships.

The Sheffield LBAP
Sheffield has responded to the challenge issued by national government, and has produced a Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Sheffield, covering all parts of the district except those that lie within the Peak District National Park. The Sheffield LBAP Area covers approximately 22,200 hectares, and encompasses a large natural resource of intersecting green spaces, comprising a wide range of habitats and species.

The Sheffield Biodiversity Steering Group was set up in November 1997, with a membership including representatives from Sheffield City Council, English Nature, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Sorby Natural History Society, Sheffield Bird Study Group, and local conservation groups. The Steering Group meets regularly to review progress and move the plan forward.

An audit of the biodiversity of Sheffield has been produced as an essential first step in the LBAP process. The Sheffield Biodiversity Audit identifies those species and habitats listed in the National Biodiversity Action Plan that actually occur in Sheffield, and also identifies those that are of local importance. The Audit describes their local conservation status, and highlights those habitats and species that require individual action plans. This work has relied heavily on volunteer input, particularly from the recorders of Sorby Natural History Society and the Sheffield Bird Study Group, and from volunteers at the Sheffield Ecology Unit.

The second stage in the Sheffield LBAP process has been the production of individual Species Action Plans and Habitat Action Plans. This has again been carried out mainly on a voluntary basis. Local experts gave assistance on each particular species and habitat. It was decided that the individual Plans should be produced in separate groups or tranches, rather than waiting until all the Plans had been finished before starting to implement the work. This publication is the first group of Action Plans, and comprises six Habitat Action Plans and four Species Action Plans.

The first group of Action Plans
The first group of the Sheffield LBAP's individual Species and Habitat Action Plans comprises the following:

Species Action Plans

Great Crested Newt Triturus cristatus
Pipistrelle Bat Pipistrellus spp.
Skylark Alauda arvensis
Water Vole Arvicola terrestris

Habitat Action Plans

Ancient and Species-rich Hedgerows
Floodplain Grazing Marsh
Gardens and Allotments
Upland and Lowland Heathland
Urban Common
Ancient Woodland

Future Plans
Further Species Action Plans will include Otter, Badger, a general Bat Action Plan to cover other bat species found in Sheffield, Birds in Buildings (to cover swift, swallow and house martin), Grass Snake, and White-clawed Crayfish. Other SAPs may also include Corn Bunting, Grey Partridge, Linnet, Nightjar, Pied Flycatcher, Reed Bunting, Song Thrush, Tree Sparrow, Woodlark, Common Toad, Palmate Newt, and Adder.

Later Habitat Action Plans will include Unimproved Grasslands, Fens and Reedbeds, Scrub, Rivers and Streams, Standing Water, Wet Ditches, Canals, Wetland Habitats, and Linear Features.