Lost landscapes

Driving back from Malton on Friday was a salutory reminder of what we have lost across much of the Humberhead Levels in terms of hedgerows, pocket copses, ponds and other wildlife havens and corridors.

The verdant roadside verges of the Howardian Hills, species rich by comparison to so many across the prairie landscapes of South Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire are awash with swathes of Lesser Celandine, Wood Anemone, Dog’s Mercury and Violets, even the hedgerow bottoms are strewn with ‘Lords and Ladies’ all these contribute to that image of a quintisential English countryside.

There are a few ‘secret places’ like the picture observed and painted above which still hang on in ‘hidden corners’ of South Yorkshire, but they are rapidly being lost to make way for bigger fields or the employment parks with their ever present monstrous ‘sheds’.  Housing too is taking away green spaces at an alarming rate.

What chance has wildlife amidst hundred acre fields, drains acting as field boundaries but devoid of the traditional hedgerow.  Tons of soil strewn along roadsides so early in the year because there are no hedges to stop the wind erosion.  How can nature colonise without wildlife friendly corridors?

One has only to browse the worldwide web to locate volumes of good intention, authors waxing lyrical of stepping stones, buffer zones, better habitat management, increasing the size of existing sites, creating new ones.  Copious tomes have been commissioned from consultants or produced by committees undertaking reviews.  What cost and what tangible improvement?  Schemes and initiatives hand out vast amounts of public money, but where is the independent evaluation for these short term sticking plaster projects?


One of Fishlake's hidden gems.

One of Fishlake’s hidden gems.


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