Managed rewilding - a new way to manage our grasslands
Rewilding is a form of environmental conservation which is used to try and increase biodiversity, create self-sustainable environments, and mitigate climate change by restoring the land to its natural untouched state.
In Barnsley we are trialling a new way of how we manage some selected plots of grass by allowing them to grow, whilst also ensuring sites remain looking neat, tidy and semi-maintained.
What are the benefits of rewilding?
- Introducing areas of tall grass will provide a number of benefits for insects, birds and mammals such as shelter, habitats, a place to hunt, feed and breed.
- Reducing the time spent cutting grass will also reduce our carbon footprint.
- Our current regime of regular mowing means these sites have the least variety of wildlife (biodiversity), so rewilding them will make a significant change to this enabling more plants and wildlife to flourish.
- We can provide more diverse spaces where people and communities can connect with nature, improving our health and wellbeing.
How will the grasslands be managed differently?
The seasonal management of some selected grasslands plots will change from intensive grass cutting over the summer months to the below.
- Grass will be allowed to grow throughout the spring and summer which will create habitats for wildlife.
- The flowers and grass will provide food and shelter for small mammals such as hedgehogs and bats, birds, amphibians and insects.
- We will still be actively managing these sites by attending every 18 days to cut the grass around the plots as well as cutting paths through the grass in suitable places. This will enhance the areas for people to enjoy walking, exercise and nature, which improves mental health and quality of life.
- At the end of the season the grass will be cut and all of the clippings will be removed from site. This is to ensure that sites are left neat and tidy over the winter period and also to help to reduce the soil fertility (wildflowers thrive in less fertile conditions)
Where will the rewilding plots be?
We've identified 16 trial plots across our borough:
- Bolton-upon-Dearne - Ladycroft
- Dodworth - Intake Crescent
- Elsecar - Hill Street
- Hoyland - Clough Fields Road
- Hoyland - Milton Forge
- Lundwood - Rotherham Road
- Penistone - Lyndhurst Bank (two areas)
- Redbrook - Great Broadings
- Redbrook - Wilthorpe Park
- Shafton - Collier Road (two areas)
- Smithies - Newhill Road
- Thurlstone - Manchester Road (two areas)
- Worsbrough - West Street
Will rewilded areas look untidy?
The plots will still be actively maintained and attended every 18 days to cut the grass around them, as well as cutting paths through the grass in suitable places. This will enhance the areas for people to enjoy walking, exercise and nature.
How have you informed people about rewilding?
For the first initial trial, we've consulted and circulated information to members. For future plots we will be consulting with the public.
We've responded to feedback and will be placing signs at locations where we're proposing to allow our grassland to grow.
Will litter still be removed?
Yes, litter will still be managed by our teams. It will be removed before any grass cutting operations and any fly-tipping litter will be responded to by local street cleansing teams.
Rewilding doesn't stop residents from still being responsible for not dropping litter or picking up after their dogs. Tall grass is not an adequate reason or excuse not to do so.
We would like as many people as possible to get involved in our rewilding project. You might be in a school local to the site, a member of a biodiversity study group, you might want to study the area to capture the current species and revisit in the future to see how things are changing, or you might want to help share our rewilding aims.
If you would like to be involved please email email@example.com.