Nature reserve SOS

Geoff Cartwright, aged 62, pictured in a vandalised hide at Blackburn Meadows Nature Reserve.
Geoff Cartwright, aged 62, pictured in a vandalised hide at Blackburn Meadows Nature Reserve.
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FEARS were expressed this week for the future of an urban wetland nature reserve on the eastern edge of Sheffield.

Environmental conservation lecturer Geoff Cartwright said he had invested “time, energy and emotion” in creating the nature reserve at Blackburn Meadows near the M1 at Tinsley so that it could be used for bird watching and for environmental lessons for schoolchildren.

But he was “shocked and depressed” to find the site has been “virtually abandoned” by the council, which is responsible for its maintenance and management.

“The reserve now looks ‘scruffy’, unkempt and the wetland habitats, which were so crucial to the site, are now rapidly dying out.”

Mr Cartwright is urging the authority to take action before it is too late.

The council said this week that, despite unprecedented spending cuts, it remained committed to Blackburn Meadows, and was trying to find a cost effective and sustainable way of managing it long term.

But concerns over the future of the reserve were echoed by Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, which used to run educational activities there after taking over from a small voluntary organisation, the Blackburn Meadows Trust.

A trust spokesperson said: “We are very disappointed that the meadows have been so neglected.

“They could be a fantastic resource for local communities if they were maintained properly. Whilst council cuts are inevitable, the Wildlife Trust believes that we neglect our public open spaces at great cost.

“Sheffield is known and loved for its green spaces. Without them, the health and well-being of its inhabitants will suffer as will the value of its land and property.”

The trust said it understood council rangers used to monitor the site and hold work days to maintain it, for the benefit of people and wildlife, but this had been lost as a result.

“Whilst cuts in maintenance of formal parks may be more immediately obvious to people, natural spaces such as Blackburn Meadows also need proper management and investment to ensure they remain havens for wildlife and a resource for all to enjoy.”

lPlea to save reserve: page 7