Guidance for Parish & Town Councils

Supporting Parish & Town Councils.

Three things Parish Councils can do

This guide offers practical steps for individuals and groups to enhance their local area for nature.

Community Town and Parish Guide to Nature Recovery

Download the Guide

What's inside?

This guide outlines a four-step approach to conservation, which includes:

1) Discovering what wildlife is already in your area
2) Protecting valuable habitats
3) Creating new wildlife habitats
4) Managing both these new and existing areas to maintain and enhance biodiversity.

It also includes advice on setting up local conservation groups, involving the community, contributing to Parish or Neighborhood Plans, and accessing further sources of help, information, and funding.

We're here to help

If you need any assistance or further help, please email our Community Ecology Team or you can phone the office on 01865 407034*

*please note our staff work part-time and we are often on site visits so please bare with us if we miss your call.

Our Work - Community Ecology

Ask to join our community groups Facebook page to get more advice from other groups like you in Oxfordshire! Please be sure to answer the admin questions so that we can add you.

We’re all trying to do the best thing for nature and our communities. It makes a huge difference to groups knowing that they are supported by their local authorities. You'll likely also find that the local group(s) can help with your own green initiatives. Knowing that we’re all in it together makes any community and biodiversity ambitions less daunting for everyone involved. #together4nature


Show that you’re interested in your local environment group's work and achievements by:

a.     Making sure you know what's going on. You should catch up with them or have someone from the Council show up to the occasional meeting to offer audible encouragement and support - be encouraging and enthusiastic! This way, the group can physically see that you’re excited by their work and achievements. As well as bolstering the group, this also offers the opportunity to partner up on projects and share manpower and resources.

b.     You can showcase their projects on your website and enthuse about their work in Council meetings and to the public at events and in any other publications you produce.

c.     Offer help by connecting people, giving space or funding projects.

Connect People

Here is an opportunity to use your contacts. Connect the local environment group(s) to other organisations or companies you may work with that could help their projects or general day to day running. This could be any local tradesmen, individuals, charities, businesses, or groups you know of that are working on similar initiatives. Maybe there’s an allotment group they could partner with, or you may know of someone who can e.g. help create or put up bird boxes, or a contact that can give them access to such and such.

Giving Space

Provide an indoor meeting space
If they don't already have a meeting space.

Provide a storage space
Do they need somewhere to store tools and if so, if there somewhere you could offer or direct them to?

Green spaces
Partner up on the management of your green spaces. Local Environment Groups can be a gold mine of knowledge and ideas. They will likely have some really good suggestions on how to enhance your land for wildlife and people, or even be able to offer volunteers to help carry out management. If you're unsure about any management or project ideas, or are unsure how to create your vision, we can help. Just contact our community ecology programme by emailing Charlotte and we can offer habitat management advice.

Fund Projects

a.      See what funding pots are available
b.      Check out the Trust for Oxfordshire's Environment (TOE) to see if they can fund your project
c.      Can you offer funding through your District or Parish Council?

Find Local Environment Groups Here

Find out what you already have

Use Google Maps satellite view or Magic Maps if you would prefer, to see what you have in terms of green spaces and landscape types.
Look for trees, parks, fields, hedgerows and any water e.g. canal, river, stream or ponds. What open green spaces are there? These could be wildlife sites, green community areas, churchyards, playing fields, green school grounds, allotments etc.

Ask for information
Contact TVERC: they can provide you with a map showing all the sites, species, and habitats in your area.
The Oxfordshire Wildlife Landscape Study (OWLS) website provides information on the habitats and landscape character of each Parish. This information is also worth getting.

Feel free to ask us for help if you get stuck!

Manage & enhance your green spaces for nature

Contact our Community Ecology Team here. We will meet with you in your Parish to assess the options and write you a tailored habitat management plan. There are usually multiple options for bringing in biodiversity. With that in mind, we make sure that the chosen method is right for your group and your Parish.

We can also point you towards funding pots for certain projects and link you to places that have done / are doing similar things in their area.

Create new spaces for wildlife

We will meet with you in your Parish to assess the options and write you a tailored habitat management plan (there are usually multiple options for bringing in biodiversity. With that in mind, we make sure that the chosen method is right for your group and your Parish). Contact our Community Ecology Team here.  

We can also point you towards funding pots for certain projects and link you to places that have done / are doing similar things in their area.


You will have found out what is already protected from step 1. You can help sites gain Local Wildlife Site status by making sure the species seen on the site are recorded and that these records go to TVERC. There are several apps to do this, or you can use their website or even send paper records to them. This ensures that there is data to prove the site is valuable to wildlife. Many Parishes have their own volunteer, wildlife recorders within their Environment Groups.

More ideas and inspiration

Councils can improve their natural environment by:

- managing hedgerows and road verges for wildlife
- joining up or extending footpaths and bridleways
- making a wildlife area
- planting a community orchard
- planting woodland for community wood fuel.

CEH’s BiodiversityToolkit includes more than 20 wildlife management options suitable for housing developments. It also provides a guide on how best to improve greenspaces for wildlife while involving residents in key decision making.

If planning to influence development, amongst many other ideas, you can consider:
- planting for pollinators
- installing sustainable drainage systems
- starting renewable energy schemes
- requiring street trees in their new development for climate cooling and reduction of pollution
- Installing hedgehog highways
- Installing swift bricks

If you need any further assistance with your green spaces, or biodiversity enhancement projects, please do get in touch and our Community Ecology team will do their best to help you. #Together4Nature

Neighbourhood Plans have legal force that can protect your Parish from unwanted development. Neighbourhood Plans are vital to protect your green spaces and wildlife friendly areas as they can prevent harmful development to these areas.

Neighbourhood Plans are a preventative form of protection, not reactive. Unfortunately, if development has already been agreed at the cost of the green spaces and wildlife areas, a new neighbourhood plan cannot revoke that decision. It is important to protect these areas using a Neighbourhood Plan to prevent harmful decisions happening in the first place.

Creating a Neighbourhood Plan: 
- Use Community First Oxfordshire to help you create one (Your green spaces should absolutely be a part of this. If you need any advice on managing your green spaces and wildlife areas please get in touch).

If you’re involved in developing a Neighbourhood Plan download "The Community and Parish Guide to Biodiversity" for Oxfordshire and the "Planning for the environment at the neighbourhood level". Useful guidance can also be sought from the Kingsbrook development in Aylesbury, where the RSPB worked with Barratt Developments and Aylesbury Vale District Council to set a new benchmark for wildlife friendly new housing developments.

Example neighbourhood plans:
Thame Green Living (complete), Go to their website or download the document as a Pdf
BensonNeighbourhood plan

Read inspiring stories from our local communities in our Newsletter. See how people are bringing the wildlife back to their neighbourhoods.

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