State of Nature

Oxfordshire's 2017 Report

The State of Nature in Oxfordshire 2017 report is the most comprehensive review of Oxfordshire’s Wildlife and provides vital baseline data.

- Over 60 species experts and over 40 environmental organisations
- Thousands of data sets and volunteer hours
- Sits alongside the national State of Nature report

The report highlights the natural jewels in Oxfordshire’s crown and considers what is currently being done, and what could be done better in future.

The report was led by Wild Oxfordshire, supported by RSPB, BBOWT, Oxfordshire County Council, CPRE, Environment Agency, Natural England, Oxfordshire County Council and Banbury Ornithological Society. Over 100 attended the launch of 'The State of Nature' report (see Launch Event tab above) at Blenheim in March 2017.

Visit our Reports tab above for free downloads of both the highlights and full report.

News report

The State of Nature in Oxfordshire 2017 report draws together a wealth of expertise from the county’s professional and volunteer base in biodiversity and nature conservation

The best information currently available has been used to paint a picture of the state of Oxfordshire’s natural habitats and species, including long-term trends as well as more recent losses and gains.  Of necessity, there is a focus on those species groups (e.g. birds and butterflies) for which there are substantive amounts of data that have been collected in a consistent manner over an extended period. Other species groups would benefit from additional resources to improve the extent and consistency of species recording effort.

The report looks at five broad habitat categories that encompass the full diversity of habitats found across the county.  For each habitat headline findings are presented including the current and historic extent and condition of specific habitat types, and recent changes and trends for characteristic species (where these are known).  Relevant case studies (above) are also presented, reflecting the breadth of work that is underway across the county. The highlights report restricts case studies to one per habitat type, whereas multiple studies are contained within the full report. Case studies can also be viewed and downloaded from the case studies page above.

The UK’s wildlife continues to decline, according to the national  State of Nature 2019 report. The latest findings show that since rigorous scientific monitoring began in the 1970s there has been a 13% decline in average abundance across wildlife studied and that the declines continue unabated. Notably, the 2019 report found that no real improvements had been made since the 2016 report.

The report also shows that 41% of UK species studied have declined, 26% have increased and 33% shown little change have declined since 1970, while 133 species assessed have already been lost from our shores since 1500.

Britain’s agricultural changes were found to be the main contributing factor, with climate change identified as having the second the biggest impact to wildlife. Pollution and growing urbanisation and invasive species were also found to contribute to species decline.

Launch Event

Over 100 people representing some 45 organisations, including local government, businesses, land owners, farmers, conservation and statutory organisations, attended Oxfordshire’s State of Nature report launch at Blenheim Palace on 21 March 2017. Dominic Hare, the CE of Blenheim Palace, opened the event with an over-view of the important role a healthy, functioning natural environment plays in the success of the Blenheim Estate.

The key-note speech was given by Professor David Macdonald, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford (WildCru). WildCru research, in particular their work on wildlife and farming, contributed to many aspects of the State of Nature report. The speech had is basis in the foreword to the full version of State of Nature report, and a video of it can be viewed here:

Other contributors to the launch were drawn from across the conservation sector: Graham Scholey (EA and chair of Oxfordshire’s Biodiversity Advisory Group); Emma Marsh, Director of the Midlands Region, RSPB; Judy Webb, ecologist and volunteering champion and Martin Layer, Planning & Estates Manager at Smiths of Bletchingdon. Presentations are available to watch or download at the foot of this page.

During the launch a specially commissioned video was played, written and filmed by 13 year-old Alex White it gives his generation’s view of the future of our natural environment. Expressing his fears for what could be lost and his hopes that everyone of us will do something to make a difference to the future of wildlife in our county.

The report was very favourably received, and a short video of some responses to the report and how it could be put to use in the future can be viewed below. This video shows clips from (in order of appearance): Richard Venables, Board Member Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership; Alistair Yeomans, Sylva Foundation and Oxford University; Craig Blackwell, retired Oxfordshire county ecologist; Karen Woolley, Chairman of the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment; Rachel Sanderson, Land Manager Oxford Preservation Trust; Robin Buxton, founder and patron of Wild Oxfordshire; Tim Field, Daylesford and Agricology.

Case Studies

Relevant case studies are presented in the State of Nature in Oxfordshire 2017 report.  These reflect the breadth of work that is underway across the county to protect, improve and connect our wildlife. They include examples large and small, from businesses and conservation organisations to community groups and doctors’ surgeries. They’re intended to inspire and give confidence, so more people are inspired to take action for nature in the county.

The highlights report restricts case studies to one per habitat type, whereas multiple studies are contained within the full report. These are set out below as individual PDFs to download, and we welcome more examples to share here and inspire more action for nature in Oxfordshire.
Freshwater and Wetlands – Restoration of a tufa-forming valley-head alkaline spring fen
Freshwater and Wetlands – Water Vole Recovery Project
Freshwater and Wetlands – Gill Mill
Semi – Natural Grasslands – Breeding Waders in the Upper Thames River Valleys
Agricultural Land – Bothy Vineyard
Agricultural Land – Oxey Meads

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