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Open space strategy: Environment and sustainability

Green spaces provide attractive places for people to relax, to play and to experience nature.

At the same time the land can absorb and store water, the trees filtering the air of pollution and providing shade in the summer. Sheffield’s green spaces support some of the country’s most valuable plants, animals and their natural habitats.

The ability of green spaces to serve many functions at once means that they are one of Sheffield’s most important assets. Managing the quality of this environment is important for its own sake, but must be done alongside the needs of people and the economic well-being of the city.

This Strategy aims to optimise these benefits for the greenest city in Britain.

The next sections outline our strategic approach and policy statements for realising our vision for Sheffield's green and open spaces.

Minimising climate change

Climate change is a global issue, but the significance of its impacts will vary locally. Predictions for our region indicate that the climate is likely to be warmer throughout the year, with wetter winters and drier summers.

Some impacts may be positive. A warmer climate may change may help develop a more outdoor culture and actually increase demand for green spaces. In built-up areas, however, heat effects can be severe and may potentially impact on health.

We must not only adapt our green spaces but look to mitigate climate change. Carbon management will be important, with local sourcing of products, recycling and renewable energy generation each able to contribute.

The city’s woodlands and moorland peat are massive stores of carbon and need to be conserved.

Policy statements

  • Manage green and open spaces in a way that allows them to adapt to a changing climate while enabling them to continue to deliver their primary public benefits

  • Plan and manage the collective contribution of Sheffield's green and open space network, as part of the city-wide strategic response to climate change

  • Promote opportunities for public participation in Sheffield's response to climate change

Sustaining quality in our environment

Green and open space forms a core part of Sheffield’s infrastructure. Just as significant as road infrastructure or the built environment, how green and open space is planned and managed contributes significantly to the functioning of the city.

Green spaces provide many environmental services: supporting flood management, pollution control and noise reduction. Forestry and agriculture contribute to the city’s economy. Alongside each of these, they continue to provide an invaluable resource for people and wildlife.

This ability to perform multiple functions is why green space is a critical asset for Sheffield. Its sustainability will be determined not only by how spaces are managed individually, but importantly how they are managed collectively to improve the environmental quality of the city.

Policy statements

  • Develop management principles to ensure that all aspects of service delivery, management and maintenance are carried out in the most environmentally sustainable way

  • Manage the functions of green and open spaces so that they are contributing in the most effective way to the improvement of the city's environmental quality

  • Adopt standards for the regeneration and new development of green and open spaces so that they are able to contribute to the improvement of the city's environmental quality

Managing for nature and biodiversity

Sheffield’s network of green spaces hosts a unique range of topography and natural habitats. Its close connections with the surrounding countryside and the Peak District National Park give it a special value for biodiversity.

Every public authority has a statutory duty to conserve biodiversity, but biodiversity is also about maximising opportunities for people to experience nature close at hand.

To be sustainable, however, biodiversity requires more than just the protection of particular species within particular sites. All types of green space can make a contribution. Even in formally maintained public parks, there are opportunities to enhance wildlife value.

Policy statements

  • Protect and enhance specific wildlife and habitats of designated Sites of Interest for Nature Conservation (SINC) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

  • Manage all public spaces, where appropriate, to protect and enhance their potential value for wildlife and habitats

  • Develop the wildlife potential of other non-public spaces, where appropriate, to support the sustainability of the wider green space network

  • Promote awareness and understanding of the nature conservation value of green spaces as a core part of managing those sites for wildlife and biodiversity

Green connections for people and wildlife

When we think about green and open spaces, we usually think about individual sites. The connections between green and open spaces however, are just as important as the spaces themselves.

Connections are the links that people use to access local open spaces from where they live. If we wish people to visit their local green and open space we must also have easy and attractive routes to get to them.

In combination, green and open spaces and the links between them form a green connections network. This network extends out beyond the city boundary and ultimately connects with other areas to form part of a regional network of green Infrastructure.

Policy statements

  • Manage a network of urban 'green links' for nature conservation that link in with regional nature conservation corridors

  • Connect communities to Sheffield's urban and rural green and open spaces by a network of attractive walking and cycling routes - 'green connections'

  • Seek opportunities for environmental enhancement of the connections network and to create connections where sections are missing - to encourage public use or to enhance their value for biodiversity, as appropriate

  • Modified: Mar 1, 2016 11:12:27 AM