Bringing the wild to everyone, right outside their doorstep
By Camilla Burrow, Director of Wild Oxfordshire
Many people discovered for the first time during the pandemic that there was nature right on their doorstep, and gained a new appreciation of the wonder, joy and peace which our natural environment provides. But there are still so many who are stuck in urban or rural deserts without the comfort of nature; and without even realising what is missing.
Nature continues to face an uncertain future, with many birds, butterflies, flowers and other wildlife disappearing from Oxfordshire’s countryside at an alarming rate. But nature can bounce back given a chance. And to give wildlife that opportunity, experts from around the county are developing a Nature Recovery Strategy for Oxfordshire. Wild Oxfordshire, Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre and BBOWT have published the first draft of a Nature Recovery Network Map, identifying places where wildlife can be helped to return.
Nature recovery: a community response
We’ll all need to work together to help nature recover. A recent article in the Guardian urged that local groups be involved protecting biodiversity. Here at Wild Oxfordshire we very much agree! For over 20 years we have been providing support, training and advice to the 80+ volunteer groups across the county. These groups provide a vital service in Oxfordshire, conserving wildlife on their doorsteps and providing communities with space to enjoy nature.
If you’re interested in joining a wildlife group, then check out our Directory to find out if there is one near you – if there isn’t then you could set one up! We also have resources on our website about creating wildlife habitats, and on sources of funding.
In addition to the help on our website, our Community Ecologist, Roselle, provides a unique service helping these groups and their volunteers with bespoke advice and by signposting to specialists. Groups will be delighted to know we are currently submitting bids to enable us to retain Roselle for another three years. Fingers crossed we are successful and can continue to offer help to groups across Oxfordshire.
You may also be interested in learning more about recording the wildlife you see when out and about, in which case you should check out the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC) website which has a wealth of information. TVERC is a not-for-profit organisation which collects together all the information for Berkshire and Oxfordshire in one place so we can help people make sound, effective decisions about how to develop and manage land sustainably and where to direct wildlife conservation.
Even the common and widespread species are important to record so that we can develop a picture over time and across the region of what is happening to our wildlife, particularly in time of changing climate and policies. The easiest way to make sure your records are used in local-decision making is to submit your records direct to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your wildlife records will help protect and enhance our environment by increasing the quality and quantity of data TVERC hold.
Another way in which you can help is by writing to your local politicians and responding to planning consultations. There are some great tips on the RSPB website about how to do this most effectively. Why not sign up to our monthly Bulletin, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter? We will ensure that you hear about pivotal environmental issues affecting Oxfordshire’s wildlife, in a balanced, independent, and inspiring way. This will enable you to take action if you wish, using the carefully curated information we have provided.
Local Environment Groups Conference
If any of this appeals, you are very welcome to join us at this year’s virtual ‘Local Environment Groups Conference’ – there will be daily online, interactive talks 9th-12th November – Sign up for the Bulletin or follow us on social media for more details!
Wild Oxfordshire works hard to provide a co-ordinated and strategic approach to conservation in Oxfordshire. Through providing support and encouraging environmental organisations and volunteers to work together, Wild Oxfordshire is the catalyst for solutions that benefit wildlife within our rich and vibrant county. Together we can deliver Nature’s Recovery in Oxfordshire.