The council's Parks Services team plays a key role in nature conservation in the borough.
The council owns six Local Nature Reserves in Barnsley. Parks Services manage five of them and carries out a planned programme of habitat management and enhancement for both the public's enjoyment and for wildlife. The practical works are carried out by the council's Countryside Ranger team, voluntary rangers and various conservation volunteers such as BTCV. Two other Local Nature Reserves in the borough at Rabbit Ings (Royston) and Bretton Park are run by Wakefield Council and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust respectively.
The team works closely with the voluntary sector and we are always keen to recruit new voluntary rangers who can act as our eyes and ears on sites, as well as get actively involved in the management of sites. If you are interested in this aspect of our work please contact us.
Local wildlife and geological sites
Significant advances have been made in the team's work on the Local Records System for wildlife. If you require information that we may hold, please get in touch. The Council has designated 62 'Local Sites', representing the best examples of land for nature and geology in the borough, with the exception of the nationally important sites which are designated by Natural England.
The council does not own most of 'Local Sites' (Local Wildlife Sites and Local Geological Sites), however we are working through the new Local Sites Partnership with conservation activists to try to improve those sites with land managers and partner groups. As opportunity and resources allow, management agreements and practical conservation works are being developed with relevant land managers.
Natural England regulates and reports on the nationally important 'Sites of Special Scientific Interest' (SSSI's) in the borough.
Biodiversity Action Plan
A major task the council led on was the completion of the first Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for the borough in 2002. This was in partnership with Barnsley Biodiversity Trust. The BAP was reviewed and reissued by the Barnsley Biodiversity Trust in 2009. Contact the Trust for information on the BAP.
The Council created a new Biodiversity Project from central funds in 2011. The project has two main strands to it: A Biodiversity Officer to advise key decision-makers across the borough on wildlife issues, and the creation of a Barnsley Biological Records Centre (BBRC) for the first time. The Biodiversity Officer targets key land managers both within the Council and private owners of wildlife-rich land to preserve and enhance the borough's native wildlife. Ecological comment is made to colleagues in the Local Planning Authority on matters such as planning applications in order that we demonstrate compliance with statutory 'biodiversity duty' which public bodies are subject to. BBRC is a service which brings together ecological data from all sorts of sources so that there is a focal point for enquires to support decisions such as new development. There may be a charge for use of the BBRC facility.
The humble hedgehog is a Barnsley target species for extra conservation measures under the BAP due to its apparent 25% decrease in numbers over the last decade. In January 2012 a new national website called hedge hog street was launched to help the public get involved in recording hedgehog appearances - we would encourage the Barnsley public to join in and support the survey.