In the face of a pressing biodiversity, climate and health crisis, Oxfordshire's environmental community is rallying together to make a resounding call for the inclusion of nature on every political agenda.
Yesterday, RSPB released the findings from their latest State of Nature report, reconfirming that the UK is one of the worst countries in the world for nature loss, with almost 1500 species now threatened with extinction.
As the county grapples with rapid development and its impact on our natural environment, a coalition of organisations, including the Oxfordshire Environment Board, Earth Trust, Wild Oxfordshire, Community First Oxfordshire, and CAG Oxfordshire, is joining forces to support the nation-wide Nature 2030 campaign. Together, they are urging the public to add their voices to the growing chorus demanding that politicians prioritise nature in the lead-up to the next general election.
Jayne Manley, Chair of the Oxfordshire Environment Board, and CEO of Earth Trust explains,
"The urgency of the matter cannot be overstated. Over the past seven decades, nature has suffered a staggering decline, with habitats shrinking, species dwindling, and ecosystems fragmenting. Everyone should have the right to live in a clean and healthy environment. Voters want the freedom to enjoy nature, breathe clean air, drink safe water, and see plenty of plants and wildlife around them. Before the next general election, we're asking all political parties to promise to make this right a law.”
It’s been over 5 years since the sobering 2017 Oxfordshire State of Nature report revealed widespread losses of species-rich grasslands and habitat fragmentation, painting a bleak picture of our natural world.
Oxfordshire’s active network of community groups and projects have been working hard to support nature’s recovery - CAG Oxfordshire’s “Communities and Nature” project is just one example of how committed individuals and organisations are working to restore the county’s habitats and connect more people to nature. Ongoing monitoring of the state of nature in Oxfordshire, reveals some positive developments such as the expansion of Local Wildlife Sites, and slight population improvements for some farmland bird species. However, despite these commendable efforts, we remain far from achieving a substantial shift toward nature's recovery and the overall picture is one of continued decline for many threatened species.
Camilla Burrow, CEO of Wild Oxfordshire comments,
"The fact is that nature is in decline, and our politicians need to do more to stop it. We have some brilliant examples of delivering nature’s recovery in Oxfordshire at the landscape-scale, and there are hundreds of groups delivering nature recovery in their local area at a smaller scale, but we need more robust action and support for large scale change from our leaders.”
Today, Oxfordshire's environmental champions are calling on everyone to take action by demanding action not words for nature's recovery by 2030.
Katherine Chesson from CAG Oxfordshire comments:
“We are asking people to make sure our leaders take action to protect nature. It's crucial that taking care of our environment is at the heart of all government decisions. This way, we can make sure our economy, food production, and our health are secure for the future."
In our Nature 2030 campaign we’re calling on all political parties to adopt five landmark policies for nature’s recovery ahead of the 2024 General Election.
A pay rise for nature and farmers: 69% of England is farmland. For nature to recover it must be at the heart of how that land is farmed. Incomes in many parts of the agricultural sector are low, so funding must be increased to enable the switch to nature-friendly farming.
Making polluters pay: Major economic sectors, including finance, retail, and energy, all contribute to nature’s decline. Putting a Nature Recovery Obligation in law, will increase the resources available for protecting and restoring habitats, support the creation of new jobs, and generate wider investment in nature’s recovery.
More space for nature by 2030: Just 7% of land in England is protected for nature and only just over a third of that is in good condition. To fulfil the promise to protect 30% of the land and sea for nature, we need a rapid delivery programme to restore protected sites and deliver more nature in all communities.
Delivering the green jobs we need: 13% of species in England are threatened, we need to train and fund more people to restore these species and the habitats where they live. More funding and a National Nature Service will create more jobs, ensure there are sufficient skilled people to carry out this scale of work, and help more wild spaces to thrive.
A Right to a Healthy Environment: 90% of people think access to nature is important for their health, but in England 38% do not have green space within 15 minutes’ walk. Establishing a human right to clean air and water and access to nature, will result in public bodies making more positive decisions for nature, saving billions for the NHS and social care, and improving health outcomes for millions.
Sign the e-petition at www.oxeb.org.uk/nature-2030.html and join the campaign to compel political parties to prioritise nature on their agendas. By working together, we can secure a brighter, greener future for Oxfordshire and leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.
Nature is sending an urgent call, and it's time for Oxfordshire to answer.