Environmental group vows to make Sheffield green again


Sheffield-based environmental group Smithy Wood Action Team (SWAT) are aiming to make patches of Sheffield green again despite the restrictions of Covid.

Hesley Wood Tip, locally known as ‘Sheffield’s Desert’, is the next target for SWAT as a constituted environmental organisation to make green again, through litter picking and other conservational work.

SWAT was established as a practical volunteering organisation back in 2016, and is in partnership with the Woodland Trust and Sheffield Environmental with the aim to clean up the Smithy Wood area.

At the time the woodland was under threat of being destroyed to make way for a motorway service station and HS2’s Eastern arm.

However, over the course of the last five years the group have seen off the threat of HS2 on the patch and the motorway service station.

Founder of Smithy Wood Action Team, Dave Dickinson said: “Over five years of trying to get a team together, litter picking by the woods on my own, and a lifetime of living locally and visiting other places I’ve had the time to dream up a vision for the future.”

Mr Dickinson said there the area had been a target for illegal off-roading over the years with seemingly little to no action to stop it, or any other habitat management.

The group has pledged to help reverse the damage caused by the illegal off-roading for a heavily discounted rate in comparison with contracted workers.

Smithy Wood isn’t the only attraction for illegal off-roaders in the area, with Hesley Wood Tip, which has mostly stood barren and clear of vegetation for decades, attracting more off-roaders.

The pandemic has had a massive effect on the group as several litter picks have had to be cancelled as a result, stifling the potential for networking meetings and a chance to record species living in Smithy Wood.

Mr Dickinson said: “It restricts my ability to call an indoor meeting to potentially attract a new crop of volunteers to drive things forward until things improve.”

If you want to help volunteer with the Smithy Wood Action Team, you can visit their website here.

Written by Sam Quine

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