Sheffield has more ancient woodland than any other industrial city in western Europe. Star species at Ecclesall Woods include bluebells and wood anemone. In the north of the city, Smithy Wood is home to rare dingy skipper butterflies.
One of the few raised bogs cheek by jowl with an urban area, this peaty plateau forms the edge of the Peak District. It is swathed with cotton grass in summer and home to scarce black darter dragonflies.
Hidden behind a petrol station on one of the busiest commuter routes into Sheffield, this small urban oasis is managed by Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust. Hedgehogs, dragonflies and frogs are among the residents.
It may be tiny, but this former industrial site beside the River Don is now a local Wildlife Trust reserve with a good mix of habitats, supporting dippers, kingfishers, butterflies and over 20 species of hoverfly.
Riverside fig forests
Sheffield’s quirkiest natural-history feature is the fig forests that line the rivers Don, Sheaf and Porter Brook. Native to the Mediterranean, fig trees managed to germinate beside the polluted watercourses during the industrial era as their superheated waters were a balmy 22–23°C year-round. Most unusually for a species introduced in modern times, the fig forests are now protected as they are seen as part of our industrial heritage.