Public awareness of the value of our natural environment and public knowledge of our need to restore nature has never been higher. The forthcoming Environment Act will unlock new tools and funding to empower counties to put nature’s recovery at the heart of their ambitions for the next decade and beyond. Oxfordshire is a thriving hub of environmental ambition with a cornucopia of NGOs, nature friendly farmers, sustainable landowners and business, AONBs, world renowned Universities and local authorities all driving forward plans to protect and enhance the natural world.
Wild Oxfordshire have worked alongside our partners to set up Oxfordshire’s Nature Partnership. The new Local Nature Partnership (“LNP”) is an exciting opportunity to bring together all these partners, to utilise new tools and funding, and to create an impactful partnership that is greater than the sum of its parts. The purpose of the LNP will be to radically enhance nature, its positive impact on our climate and the priority it is given, helping to make Oxfordshire an exemplar county for people and nature to thrive. The LNP will work towards its purpose by developing strategies and plans; influencing relevant local and national government policy and legislation; establishing voluntary working groups and task and finish groups as required; levering resources into the sector and through LNP members and others using LNP outputs to guide their work and influence others.
To do this, the LNP needs to harness the energy, enthusiasm and expertise of all relevant organisations across Oxfordshire. It needs a strong collective voice and a passionate, knowledgeable board to make it heard. The board will include representatives from local authorities, universities, health, the Defra family, environmental NGOs, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, farming, business and landowners. The board will be supported by a full time LNP Manager. It is also anticipated there will be separate secretariat support, potentially from the Oxfordshire Growth Board, and we hope a separate Policy Officer. The wider expertise that exists throughout the county will influence the work of the LNP through the LNP Forum, a broad stakeholder group that will ensure the decisions of the board and actions of the LNP are fully informed by the views and experiences of LNP members. The Board will also be supported by the Executive Group, chaired by the LNP Manager and attended by the chairs of the working groups and task and finish groups, which will be formed around key workstreams and bring together relevant experts from among the LNP membership. With Local Nature Recovery Strategies soon to be required for each county, Biodiversity Net Gain funds coming onstream and unprecedented political and public support to restore nature, a new LNP for Oxfordshire will be the key vehicle to target new resources, establish new strategies, build new connections and champion nature. In a time of great change, we have the opportunity to pull together and form a leading organisation to radically enhance Oxfordshire’s natural environment. The Board will lead the partnership, maximise its impact and take full advantage of the new regulatory world we will soon be in.
The Oxfordshire LNP board members are now in place, and are as follows:
- Local authorities – Cllr David Rouane, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council
- Universities – Prof David McDonald, Director of WildCRU, Oxford University
- Health – Rosie Rowe, Assistant Director for Public Health at Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council
- DEFRA Family – Michelle Leek, Natural England
- eNGO 1 – Prue Addison, BBOWT
- eNGO 2 – David Knight, Wild Oxfordshire Chair
- AONBs – Simon Smith, Cotswolds AONB
- Farmers – James Price
- Landowners – Lady Jennifer Stringer
- Business – Giles Brockbank (OxLEP Clean Growth working group)
There is a real sense of optimism surrounding the LNP and we look forward to all working together for Oxfordshire’s nature and environment!
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