The Jubilee wildlife spaces are accessible areas for people to enjoy where wildlife can thrive. This project was born from the vision of Sir Hugo Brunner and our founding patron, Robin Buxton, twenty years ago. Our community ecologists continue to support the communities and volunteers who manage these incredible spaces. With special thanks to the hard work of Sir Hugo Brunner and Cynth Napper.
The 2002 Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth fell during the time I served Her Majesty as Lord Lieutenant in Oxfordshire (1996-2008). It was celebrated in the county in many ways, but I had become aware of the work of the Oxfordshire Nature Conservation Forum (now Wild Oxfordshire), which led me to present to Robin Buxton the idea of honouring the Queen by creating ‘Jubilee Wildlife Spaces’ – areas that would enhance Oxfordshire’s wildlife, be enjoyed by the local community, and be looked after by volunteers. The challenge was to support the creation of two new or improved Jubilee Wildlife Spaces in each Oxfordshire District. We raised the necessary funds and met this challenge, designating our tenth Jubilee Wildlife Spaces in April 2004. They range in size from an urban churchyard to a group of linked commons, but all are accessible to the wider public and managed by local volunteers.
Sir Hugo Brunner
With Wild Oxfordshire’s help, a diverse set of people from communities and organisations were brought together to create and manage these special places. From local authorities to community groups, parish councils to schools, businesses to churches - so many have been involved!
It’s not always plain sailing when people and nature mix, and volunteer groups often return to us for advice after a gap of several years. That is why Wild Oxfordshire is committed to always having knowledgeable community ecologists available to help whenever they are needed.
We have 10 incredible jubilee wildlife spaces in Oxfordshire!
• Barton Fields, Vale of White Horse District. Fields by the Thames, close to Abingdon.
• Breach Wood, West Oxfordshire District. A 2.4 ha woodland site close to Hailey village.
• Cumnor Hurst, Vale of White Horse District. A rare acid grassland and SSSI.
• Hinksey Meadows, Oxford City. A large floodplain meadow.
• Horspath Wildlife Conservation Area, South Oxfordshire District. A 3.5 ha site that cuts through Horspath village.
• Jubilee Meadows at Wootton by Woodstock, West Oxfordshire. 10.6 ha of limestone hill and wetland.
• Merton Wood, Cherwell District. A new wood with thousands of planted trees.
• Nettlebed and District Commons, South Oxfordshire District. A patchwork of ponds, heath and wood habitats.
• Ss Mary & John Churchyard, Oxford City. Small, but more than 200 trees and myriad birds.
• St Mary’s Fields, Cherwell District. A 3.6 ha site with a pond and fields.
Twenty years since the inception of the Jubilee Wildlife Spaces project, we can all see that our collective efforts were worth it. The benefits have been long-lasting and wide-ranging, both for the communities that created them, and for the habitats and species on the sites. As a result of this project, people have benefitted from increased community cohesion and improved health and well-being, educational and social opportunities, and mitigation and adaptation to climate change, all achieved while nature has thrived.
The Jubilee Spaces challenge was more difficult than we had thought it would be, but everything we learnt along the way reinforced our general support to all parish conservation groups in Oxfordshire, especially those just forming and needing advice and information to establish themselves.
The Jubilee wildlife sites rely on volunteers to help manage them.
Take a look at our map to see which sites are near you and to get in touch with your local one to see if they'd like more help.
A great way you can help out your local wildlife spaces is to record your wildlife sightings. Download any of these apps: iRecord, Seek and iNaturalist (good for beginners) and follow the steps to inform local conservation strategies. The data you put in goes to our local biodiversity records center, TVERC which is then used by Wild Oxfordshire, and our partner organisations, to create tailored nature recovery strategies.