Sunday, 26 March 2017

The State of Nature in Oxfordshire

Many thanks to Dave Morris, County Recorder for Oxfordshire, who sent us this guest blogpost:

"Oxfordshire (V.C. 23 and part V.C. 22) now has its own State of Nature report, published by the charity Wild Oxfordshire, available here. Launched at Blenheim Palace on Tuesday, the report, like its national counterpart, provides a review of the conservation status of the county’s habitats and species. It draws on the expertise of the many conservation, natural history and biological recording organisations in the county (222 apparently), including our two botanical groups, the Oxfordshire and Wychwood Flora Groups.

"I confess to not having read the national State of Nature reports, probably because the headlines which seem so very obvious and depressing to a naturalist are all that penetrate the media. However, the Oxfordshire State of Nature report is remarkably positive. Of course, there are the familiar losses and declines, and these are clearly emphasised, but what comes through is how rich in wildlife the county remains. 

Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris
Image: J.A. Webb
"Notwithstanding the depredations of modernity, Oxfordshire is still a stronghold for many rare and threatened habitats, including internationally important limestone and floodplain grasslands, and our tiny rich-fens, crucial habitats for Apium repens, Salvia pratensis and Viola persicifolia, among others. [LM: You can download a Species Account for Apium repens here.]

"The State of Nature in Oxfordshire was clearly written with policy-makers in mind, and Lawton’s mantra of ‘more, bigger, better, joined’ appears several times. This is a simple message with great imaginative appeal and over thirty pages of the report show how its vision of a wildlife-rich countryside is being realised in the county.

Carrying out practical conservation work
 for Blysmus compressus.
Dave Morris (far right); Judy (foreground left).
Image: J.A. Webb
Case studies range from the landscape partnership of RSPB and the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust to manage the upper Thames and its tributaries, to the efforts of farmers and foresters to use the land in a sustainable way, and the work of small groups to conserve rare plants in the county (e.g. Blysmus compressus described on my blog). [LM: you can download a Species Account for Blysmus compressus here.]

"All this work shows that local people can see the ‘bigger picture’ of wildlife and society – in these uncertain political times let’s hope that the State of Nature in Oxfordshire report will catch the imagination of government too".

Thanks Dave - great to hear some good news about people working together to help our wild plants! Congratulations to all of you on the publication of this report.