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HABITAT MANAGEMENT: For management advice contact Wild Oxfordshire’s Community Ecologist roselle@wildoxfordshire.org.uk

Cherwell District Council have recently published their CDC Community Nature Plan 2018-2020 to demonstrate how it will fulfil its duty under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 and comply with its obligations relating to important wildlife sites, habitats and species under European and national legislation as well as the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

ASH DIE BACK: A recent paper joint funded by the Sylva Foundation, The Woodland Trust, Linacre College (Oxford) and Defra reported the economic cost of ash dieback in Britain, over the next 100 years to be £15 billion, with half of this coming over the next ten years. These costs are made up of a number of costs, including loss of ecosystem services. With only 1-5% of the ash population estimated to have any genetic tolerance, there is no doubt that the impacts of ash dieback in Oxfordshire will be very significant; affecting biodiversity, the local economy, health and safety, landscape, tourism, habitat, environmental protection, and more. The species recommended for the county are Alnus glutinosa, Acer campestre, Sorbus aucuparia and Populus tremula. Note that any such recommendations are not a substitute for good site knowledge and management. The Sylva Foundation is also leading on the development of Oxfordshire’s Ash Die Back Action Plan. It is early days,  so until this plan is developed here is some practical advice for those with a responsibility for management of ash in woodlands and maintaining ecosystem properties after loss of ash in Great Britain. Devon & Leicestershire have done this already and their plans contain a great deal of advice that is applicable to Oxfordshire.

FUNDING: The Trust For Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE) have funded over 250 projects representing more than £1.5 million in grants. TOE has a variety of grants available to support projects that meet the following general criteria:

  • Improve the overall biodiversity of habitats including woodlands, ponds, rivers, meadows, greenspaces and the wider countryside.
  • Improve breeding or habitat conditions for particular species, e.g. planting nectar rich plants for bumblebees.
  • Expand the biodiversity resource within the 36 Conservation Target Areas (CTAs).
  • Improve the quality, quantity and/or coverage of voluntary species recording in Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

INSPIRATION: Some examples of how groups are taking action for wildlife:

Managing gardens and small spaces for wildlife