A “GREEN” project that aims to transform the Dearne Valley for the future, has won recognition.
The Dearne Valley Green Heart won the accolade for Recreation and Tourism, at the 2011 Waterways Renaissance Awards.
Judges said: “This project has transformed the Dearne Valley in South Yorkshire from a derelict post-industrial landscape into a rich, biodiverse waterscape.
Flood risk management is a core benefit of the project, and further work by the Environment Agency and the RSPB has created two multifunctional sites expanding the Old Moor Wetland Reserve.
“Bolton Ings and Adwick Washland have increased the cluster of habitats whilst providing flood storage and areas of high amenity value to the local community.”
The winning news came just as RSPB Old Moor celebrated the arrival of its first-ever Avocet chicks.
Two chicks hatched last week, with others predicted to arrive soon.
Kate Thorpe, assistant warden, said: “Avocets are the birds on the RSPB’s logo, so we’re doubly delighted these chicks have hatched on the reserve.
“At the moment, they are little more than bundles of fluff, but when they grow up they will be stunning to look at.
“They are instantly recognisable with their curved bill and black and white plumage. Visitors can easily see the parents and new chicks from two hides on the reserve.”
The reserves have over 100,000 visitors each year, and are, say the RSPB, a “valuable asset”.
There are rare plants and butterflies, re-introduced eels in the washlands, and colonies of threatened water vole.
And there are plans to develop more washlands in the valley as habitats for breeding waders and other wildlife.
An RSPB spokesman said: “As part of the Green Heart Partnership, we will increase walking and cycling schemes and local events”.
The Waterways Renaissance Awards, run by The Waterways Trust, recognise exceptional projects that use canals and rivers to enrich people’s lives.
Chief executive Roger Hanbury said: “It is truly inspiring to see that people and organisations work together to realise the benefits of our canals and rivers for communities across the UK”.