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Communities urged to explore coal’s wildlife legacy

Posted on 31 July 2014

Scientists based in the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York are inviting communities in the Barnsley and Doncaster areas to join in special free events to find out about wildlife re-colonising local former colliery sites.

The scientists who are part of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), a nationwide partnership initiative that inspires communities to discover, enjoy and protect their local environments, will run events next month at three locations in the Dearne Valley.

The events take place at New Park Springs, Grimethorpe (Tuesday 5 August 4pm-8pm); Phoenix Park, Thurnscoe (Thursday 7 August 4pm-8pm) and the former Cadeby Colliery, Conisbrough (Thursday 14 August 4pm-8pm).

They are supported variously by OPAL, Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership, Dearne Valley Green Heart Nature Improvement Area, the Forestry Commission, The Land Trust and Entour.

OPAL community scientist Dr Rachel Pateman said: “These will be fun events for all the family. The aim is for people to tell us about the history of these sites, to explore the wildlife on them and to look at the links between the two. We want the community’s help in establishing how previous industrial uses of the sites and their restoration have affected the habitats and species seen on them today.

“We want people to tell us about past activities on and uses of the sites as part of a mapping exercise. We need their local knowledge! It would be great if they could bring photos and objects relating to the sites that might help with this.”

There will also be a range of activities to explore the wildlife of sites including a nature trail, bug hunt and a worm survey. People wishing to attend can go to the respective locations on the day at any time between 4pm and 8pm.

Further information:

  • Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), led by Imperial College London, (, is a nationwide partnership initiative that inspires communities to discover, enjoy and protect their local environments. OPAL provides the skills and materials needed for the first national community-led study of the world around us. OPAL is funded by £14m grant from Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme. For more information, please visit
  • For more information on the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York visit

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