Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

  • 5 April 2017

Working locally to protect nature in Oxfordshire

Common Tern

Common Terns could be just one of the winners from new habitat creation and "green infrastructure" in Oxfordshire such as at Gill Mill Quarry

ECI has joined with over 40 other organisations to help produce a new report on the state of local wildlife. State of Nature in Oxfordshire brings together an immense amount of data on hundreds of species , sadly much of it showing declines in abundance and variety.

Launched at Blenheim Palace with the keynote presentation by Professor David Macdonald, Head of Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, the report calls for more, bigger and better-connected wild spaces, as well as a major change towards more multi-functional land management strategies which can produce co-benefits for people and wildlife. The ECI's Dr Pam Berry was one of the academic reviewers, having been the Editor for the England Chapter of the UK's first National Ecosystem Assessment in 2011.

The School of Geography and the Environment's Ian Curtis, a trustee of Wild Oxfordshire who co-ordinated the report, said "It is great to see the University continue its historical contribution, this time in such a powerful collective effort with others. Way back in 1677 Robert Plot, the first Professor of Chemistry at the University and the first keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, wrote The Natural History of Oxfordshire, the first such county history in Britain - so we have a legacy to cherish."

Today, the University continues an extensive range of research on the local environment, led by the flagship of Wytham Woods, one of the most intensively studied natural habitats in the world. Next year - 2018 - will see the 75th anniversary of Wytham being left to the University by the ffennell bequest.

More recently, Dr Berry and her colleagues are conducting research in Bicester on the role of urban "green infrastructure" such as parks, street trees and water features. The goal is to create practical tools and guidance to help local councils identify opportunities for adding new and enhancing existing green infrastructure, and evaluate the benefits of these investments for services such as flood protection, carbon storage, space for recreation and habitat for wildlife.

"The importance of the natural environment must be recognised at a local level to encourage effective policymaking and collaborative conservation"

The State of Nature in Oxfordshire