Conservation Target Areas


Conservation Target Areas 

Resources to download:                                                 

  1. Background, governance and process for CTA creation and review 2016
  2. How CTAs can help in planning

The wildlife of important habitats such as that found on SSSI and LWS cannot survive indefinitely in isolation, but need to be part of a wider network of habitats connected at a landscape scale. This allows populations to move, adapt to changing conditions locally and maintain genetic diversity. The Oxfordshire Wildlife and Landscape Study (OWLS) (Blackwell & Nikolakaki, 2004) which investigated the landscape character and biodiversity resource of the county was a precursor to the development of Oxfordshire’s Conservation Target Areas (CTAs). In 2006 Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC) were funded by Oxfordshire County Council to identify the best areas of biodiversity and Priority Habitat across Oxfordshire, mapping areas that became known as Conservation Target Areas (CTAs). CTAs are some of the most important areas for wildlife where targeted conservation action will have the greatest benefit, and are referenced in the State of Nature in Oxfordshire 2017 report. They provide a focus for coordinated delivery of biodiversity work, agri-environment schemes and biodiversity enhancements through the planning system. The CTAs cover just over 20 % of the county by area (526.2 km2) and contain 95% of the SSSI land area in Oxfordshire. Each CTA supports one or more of the 20 priority habitats found in Oxfordshire.

Since their inception Wild Oxfordshire, previously known as Oxfordshire Nature Conservation Forum (ONCF) has been the custodian of the CTA process and coordinator of the Biodiversity Advisory Group (BAG). The CTA approach is supported by ‘Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services’, which sets out the Government’s ambition to halt overall loss of England’s biodiversity by 2020, support healthy well-functioning ecosystems and establish coherent ecological networks, with more and better places for wildlife and people.’ Local conservation projects are explicitly recognised as an important tool in delivering the national strategy.

The CTA’s can be seen as the spatial component of Oxfordshire’s strategic approach to biodiversity, as referenced in Oxfordshire’s State of Nature Report. They indicate where the delivery of Oxfordshire Oxfordshire’s strategic approach to biodiversity should be focused in order to secure the maximum biodiversity benefits. The CTA maps also show where the greatest gains can be made from habitat enhancement, restoration and creation, as these areas offer the best opportunities for establishing large habitat areas and/or networks of wildlife habitats. As such, they will be useful to local planning authorities in the development and delivery of resilient ecological networks and Green Infrastructure. The CTA’s should not be seen as planning constraint maps.

There are currently 36 CTAs in Oxfordshire which evolved from the Oxfordshire Wildlife and Landscape Study (OWLS), and are equivalent to Biodiversity Opportunity Areas in other counties. The Oxford Meadows and the Swere Valley and Upper Stour CTA  are two case studies that show work in different CTAs.

For more information, you can download:

  • A short introduction to Oxfordshire’s Biodiversity Action Plan and Conservation Target Area process – this is currently being  updated, but the previous version can be read here: CTA Mapping Report July 2006.
  • A map showing the location of all the CTAs in Oxfordshire (also to be updated) CTA map
  • 2015 habitat restoration and creation targets for each CTA  Habitat targets.

Individual CTA information can be accessed below. These concise CTA statements include information about the biodiversity, geology and topograhy, a map and habitat targets.

  1.  Berkshire Downs Escarpment CTA
  2. Bernwood
  3. Blenheim and Ditchley Parks CTA
  4. Blewbury Downs South East CTA
  5. Brill and Muswell Hills CTA
  6. Chilterns Dipslope and Plateau CTA
  7. Chilterns Escarpment North CTA
  8. Chilterns Escarpment Central CTA
  9. Chilterns Escarpment South Central CTA
  10. Chilterns Escarpment South CTA
  11. Glyme and Dorn Valleys CTA
  12. Kirtlington and Bletchingdon Parks and Woods CTA
  13. Lower Cherwell Valley CTA
  14. Lower Windrush Valley CTA1
  15. Northern Evenlode Valleys CTA
  16. Northern Valleys CTA
  17. Otmoor CTA
  18. Oxford Heights East CTA
  19. Oxford Heights West CTA
  20. Oxford Meadows and Farmoor CTA
  21. Ray CTA
  22. Shotover CTA
  23. South Cotswold Valleys CTA
  24. Swere Valley and Upper Stour CTA
  25. Thame Park CTA
  26. Thames and Cherwell at Oxford CTA
  27. Thames Clifton to Shillingford CTA
  28. Thames Radley to Abingdon CTA
  29. Thames Wallingford to Goring CTA
  30. Tusmore and Shelswell Parks CTA
  31. Upper Cherwell Valley CTA
  32. Upper Thames CTA
  33. Upper Windrush CTA
  34. West Oxfordshire Heights CTA
  35. Wychwood and Lower Evenlode CTA
  36. Wytham Hill CTA