The Sheffield City Ecology Unit is made up of a small team of ecologists, whose work includes:
- providing ecological advice, comments and guidance to our departments, other organisations and members of the public
- ensuring the statutory duties with respect to wildlife and nature conservation are implemented across our services
- managing the Sheffield Biological Records Centre
- designating and reviewing 255 local wildlife sites within Sheffield (123 in positive conservation management 2014)
- updating and implementing the Local Biodiversity Action Plan to conserve important habitats and species
- the unit acts on a number of partnerships, including the Sheffield Local Biodiversity Action Partnership, Sheffield Moors Partnership and Dark Peak Nature Improvement Area Steering Group
- providing guidance on our obligations in relation to Higher Level Stewardship schemes
- undertaking specific projects to conserve, restore and enhance Sheffield's ecology
Our work is underpinned by numerous pieces of legislation and policy, as well as science and best practice.
Importantly, Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 requires all local authorities to have regard to the purpose of conserving biodiversity when carrying out its functions. Conserving biodiversity includes restoring or enhancing a population or habitat. This is commonly referred to as 'Biodiversity duty'.
Biodiversity is the variety of ecosystems and living organisms (species), including genetic variation within species. Ecology is the scientific study of the interrelationships among organisms, and between them and all aspects, living and non-living, of their environment.
The importance of our work
'The natural world is not a luxury. It is fundamental to our wellbeing, health and economy.' (Lawton Report)
Biodiversity (the diversity of species, habitats and ecosystems) surrounds us in Sheffield, making it a great place to enjoy visiting, but biodiversity is much more than its contribution to attractive scenery.
We are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of healthy ecosystems and how their decline is affecting human lives. The natural environment provides many benefits to society, now known as 'ecosystem services'.
Food, clean water and minerals are fundamental ecosystem services, but others have more recently become apparent, such as flood defences and carbon sequestration (storage), which can mitigate the effects of climate change (Lawton Report 2010).
Recognising that some services operate at a national or global level, the government Lawton Report 2010 stressed the need to address the fragmentation of conservation sites. The report suggested that creating a coherent and resilient ecological network requires a change of focus and for this to be implemented across a large area at a local level; a principle which we are applying in Sheffield to conserve and enhance the city's wildlife.
Changes to wildlife conservation
'We need a step-change in our approach to wildlife conservation from trying to hang on to what we have, to one of large scale habitat restoration and recreation, under-pinned by the re-establishment of ecological processes and ecosystem services, for the benefits of both people and wildlife.' (Lawton Report)
This is a long term vision, which can only be attempted in partnership with local people, between local authorities, statutory agencies, the voluntary sector and land owners.
- Natural England
- Forestry Commission
- Environment Agency
- Peak District National Park Authority
- National Trust
- Moors for the Future
- Sheffield Wildlife Trust
- University of Sheffield
- Biodiversity and Macroecology Group
- Sheffield Hallam University
- Peak National Park Ecology Service
- Sorby Natural History Society
- Sheffield Area Geology Trust (for all enquiries about Geological Records and Sheffield RIGS (Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites)
- Museums Sheffield
- Rotherham Biological Records Centre
- Derbyshire Biological Records Centre
- Barnsley Biological Records Centre