A NATURE reserve described as the ‘jewel in Barnsley’s crown’ has received its first-ever Green Flag status after years of award wins.

Carlton Marsh, home to many species of birds, mammals, wildflowers, butterflies and dragonflies, is a well-known hotspot for birdwatchers, with a new bird hide, a picnic area, walking routes from Carlton to Cudworth, and accessible seating.

Volunteers have played a huge role in the management of the site since it became a nature reserve in 1976, from advising on major habitat creation schemes to day-to-day maintenance.

Coun James Higginbottom, cabinet spokesperson for environment and highways, said: “These awards are a testament to the hard work of our parks team and volunteers at Carlton Marsh who put in so much time and effort to protect these beautiful green spaces.”

Their efforts have led to the marsh being classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest – which offers protection from building developments.

According to Carlton Marsh volunteers’ annual report, deer and 116 species of birds have been spotted at the site in the last year including peregrin falcons, marsh harriers, buzzards and hobbies, as well as several varieties of owls.

Fish have also made a big return to the marsh’s waterways with mirror carp, perch and chub being recorded due to improving water quality.

Keep Britain Tidy’s Green Flag manager, Paul Todd, added: “I would like to congratulate everyone involved at Carlton Marsh.

“This is a vital green space for the community in Barnsley, bringing people together and providing opportunities to lead healthy lifestyles.

“The staff and volunteers do so much to ensure that it maintains the high standards of the Green Flag and everyone involved should feel extremely proud of their achievement.”