Natural England - Dearne Valley NIA

Dearne Valley NIA

NIA grant awarded: £559,980
Additional resources provided by this NIA: £1,959,750

The Dearne Valley is a landscape left scarred by coal mining and heavy industry, but where the people have enthusiasm to work together to transform their local environment, generating new jobs and creating a great place to live and work.

Dearne Valley Green Heart boundaries

Dearne Valley Green Heart boundaries
(click image for larger map (PDF))

Year two delivery

Progress from year two of the NIA can be found in this summary: (452kb)pdf document.

Progress from year one of the NIA can be found in this summary: (137kb)pdf document.

About the NIA

It is the ideal location to demonstrate how people and nature can live together in the same landscape in a sustainable way. It is the opportunity to show that in fact improving the health of the environment supports healthy development of the communities and vice versa. The Dearne Valley Green Heart Partnership was established six years ago to make this a reality.


The Nature Improvement Area (NIA) will help local people deliver their vision to restore the ecological functionality of the river, its floodplain and its link to habitats on surrounding sandstone and limestone hills. Our vision is to create a 1300ha core of wetland and woodland habitats. This will be buffered by 2690ha of open land and reclaimed industrial areas whose biodiversity areas will be enhanced. This will link up core areas and target farmland areas of poor ecological functionality covering 1700ha.

Our restoration areas will cover 500ha of semi natural grasslands, new woodlands and wetlands. There are stepping stones along the river corridors and through the limestone semi-natural grasslands to meet the needs of more mobile species such as eels, otters, water voles and the dingy skipper. The Green Heart will support a rich diversity of wildlife including nationally important number of wintering water birds. The NIA will contribute to the delivery of this vision.

It will create new core areas of 88ha which are critical link sites between wetland core areas in the north and south of the valley. It will also enhance 1150ha of farmland and 150ha or woodland areas through targeted advice in the poor ecologically functioning zones.

A landowner and farmers working group increase farmer involvement in the project. The project will establish an innovative approach to influencing strategic planning through the Dearne Ecovision partnership and a new planning policy working group. The relationship between improving the environment and the economy is championed by local MPs and the leaders of the three local councils. It will fund a Project Development Officer and two Community Rangers, who will be the public face of the partners in the Valley working with local communities and encourage a growing strong relationship with nature.


There will be an extensive community outreach programme through the “Hidden Gems of the Dearne“ project. The Dearne Valley Community is ambitious. In the same way that the Yorkshire Dales has emerged from its, post industrial past of lead mining and grazing, the Dearne also aspires to become known for its fantastic nature.

It will become an example of how landscape and economic regeneration can work at its best.

Further information

For further information contact Peter Wall –