There is a need to study our historical interaction with the landscape so we can learn from our past to make wiser choices in the future and protect our natural heritage. For example, urbanisation and changes in agricultural practices have led to a worrying decline in wildflower species and pollinators which will, if not arrested, lead to species extinctions and crop yield decline.
This project will investigate how human choices have affected the industrial, social and natural heritage of Sunderland, concentrating upon the history of the brownfield site, Galleys Gill. Galleys Gill has an interesting history, providing an exciting opportunity to engage people with their local heritage.
Brownfield sites need studying as they are becoming increasingly important for wildlife within the urban landscape, providing an oasis for certain species – nearly 15% of all nationally scarce insects are recorded from brownfield sites! Typically, the open character of brownfield sites make them excellent for invertebrates and reptiles. Low nutrient content results in higher plant diversity, therefore flower-rich grasslands grow – providing hoverflies, bees and butterflies with nectar and pollen.
Galleys Gill is managed by Sunderland City Council with minimal levels of maintenance. Amenity grass is mown and shrub / woodland areas are managed predominantly on a reactionary basis to reported problems. As previously stated, part of the site is a LWS and it is currently on the cusp of losing that classification. The LLL project will ensure that: the biodiversity of the site is improved; wildflowers are re-introduced; overgrown vegetation is cut back.