Since 2017, TVERC have been monitoring the state of nature with a selection of indicators:
  • The change in the area of Local Wildlife Sites in Oxfordshire has risen from 339 sites covering an area of 5,099 ha in 2004-2005 to 393 sites covering 6,648 ha in 2021-2022.
  • Total Priority Habitat in Oxfordshire has increased by 13% since 2010 to 17,279 ha. The changes in the UK priority habitats are mostly attributable to new information such as confirmation of boundaries or habitat types.
  • The Farmland Bird Index shows a slight decline over the last 18 years, stabilizing more recently. Of the farmland specialists, Corn Bunting, Linnet, Goldfinch, Stock Dove, Lapwing, Skylark, and Whitethroat have increased since 2004, whilst Grey Partridge and Starling have decreased. Of the generalists, Yellow Wagtail and Jackdaw have increased while Woodpigeon, Rook, Reed Bunting, Kestrel and Greenfinch have decreased.
Grey Partridge pair (c) Mike Pollard

These indicators show that, at best, there have been some very small increases in nature since 2017, and other areas are still in decline. This is in no way the step-change needed to achieve nature’s recovery. We need to reverse the decline and achieve significant increases if we are to survive the nature and climate emergencies.

Achieving nature’s recovery is a big job!

We need as many organisations, groups, and individuals as possible helping. Fortunately, there are many people out there with the shared aim of creating a more biodiverse Oxfordshire, and Wild Oxfordshire, along with our partners, understand what’s needed to achieve nature recovery, and how everyone can contribute.

Oxfordshire County Council has been named by the government as a ‘responsible authority’ for the Oxfordshire Local Nature Recovery Strategy. Development of the upcoming Local Nature Recovery Strategy will involve working with the wide variety of communities, businesses, and landowners in the County to set out priorities and actions for nature recovery in Oxfordshire and identify where we should focus our efforts at the county-scale (building on the work done with identifying our Conservation Target Areas, State of Nature, and the draft Nature Recovery Network. We will be working closely with the county council to co-ordinate these plans for nature recovery in Oxfordshire, and urge everyone to get involved as the process unrolls over the next 18 months.

We have excellent data available from the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre, and it is really important that everyone shares wildlife sightings, locations of potential priority habitat and potential Local Wildlife Sites with TVERC so that decisions are based on the best information available, we can collectively monitor how nature is doing, and we can change track if we need to. Record your wildlife sightings here.

Also essential will be a delivery plan - we don’t want another strategy just sitting on the shelf. We have some brilliant examples of delivering nature’s recovery in Oxfordshire at the landscape-scale, including Catchment Partnerships such as the Evenlode Catchment Partnership, Farmer Clusters such as the North East Cotswold, and Conservation Target Areas. There are also hundreds of groups delivering nature recovery in their local area at a smaller scale, with just a few of these examples on our website.

All this work requires funding, and that is why we’re working together on a Green Finance Strategy for Oxfordshire to catalyse a framework of natural capital investment. This will radically enhance nature, delivering natural solutions to climate change and wider benefits for communities, health, water, and the environment. It will enable the development of a project pipeline and fund delivery of environmental enhancement projects by leveraging public, private, third sector and philanthropic funds. The market will function with high integrity and transparency and be guided by local evidence in alignment with the priorities of the forthcoming Local Nature Recovery Strategy. This will be launched in September so make sure you’re signed up to the LNP newsletter to hear more.

As mentioned earlier, we need everyone to get involved and play an active role in the co-design of the strategy. Look out for opportunities to get involved later this year, and in the meantime, keep doing what you’re doing on your patch, whether that’s your garden, community greenspace, nature reserve, farm, estate, farmer cluster, river catchment, or conservation target area.