A proposed Nature Recovery Network for Oxfordshire

The Nature Recovery Network (NRN) is a major commitment in the UK Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan, intended to improve, expand and connect habitats, to address wildlife’s decline and provide wider environmental benefits for people.  The concept for the Nature Recovery Network is simple. Existing protected sites represent the best areas for wildlife, and they should form the core of any network. But to support nature’s recovery action is required to extend and link these existing sites, both to support wildlife and to recover the range of economic and social benefits that nature provides.

TVERC led a project with Wild Oxfordshire and BBOWT to identify a Nature Recovery Network for Oxfordshire, and to engage with stakeholders from across the environmental community in Oxfordshire to think about the aims and ambitions of an NRN.  The Nature Recovery Network presented here is very much a first draft and further work is required to set out the aims and objectives of a Nature Recovery Network for Oxfordshire and to revise the spatial representation of the NRN.

TVERC, Wild Oxfordshire and BBOWT led two workshop sessions to present the initial outputs from the analysis and to invite feedback from a range of stakeholders. Fifty-six organisations were invited to the consultation workshops. In total across two sessions 45 organisations were represented and 67 individuals attended. The workshops were divided into three sessions which covered the following:

  1. Feedback on the extent of the initial Nature Recovery Network
  2. An invitation to define the aims and objectives of an NRN for Oxfordshire and to set targets for nature’s recovery
  3. A discussion on policy, funding and delivery of the aims and objectives for the NRN

Stakeholders were very engaged in the consultation and the initial outputs and questions provoked much discussion and debate. A wide range of opinions were expressed, many of which conflicted.  The key messages from the consultation process are as follows:

  • The ambition, aims and targets of a Nature Recovery Network in Oxfordshire need to be agreed among the environmental stakeholders in the county.
  • Once targets have been clearly articulated, the spatial representation of the NRN needs to be refined.
  • Ownership and governance of the NRN needs to be agreed to ensure effective delivery of the NRN.
  • Appropriate monitoring of the targets of the NRN is essential.
  • Diverse funding sources are available, and these funds should be targeted to meet the priorities of the NRN.

TVERC have produced a draft Nature Recovery Network for Oxfordshire which responds to the feedback we received from the consultation process.  It does this by taking a hierarchical approach to nature’s recovery in Oxfordshire.  The draft NRN has a Core Area, a Potential Area, as well as including the wider countryside.  The Nature Recovery Network is very much a first draft and a great deal of further work is required to set out the aims and objectives of a Nature Recovery Network for Oxfordshire and to revise the spatial representation of the NRN.  TVERC proposes to continue to work with environmental stakeholders from across the county to:

  1. Set out a vision for nature in Oxfordshire
  2. Set targets for nature’s recovery
  3. Compile a strategy for nature’s recovery in Oxfordshire
  4. Test the strategy against the draft NRN
  5. Refine the NRN as appropriate

TVERC, Wild Oxfordshire and BBOWT are continuing discussion on how to progress the project and to secure funding to deliver both a strategy for nature and a revised Nature Recovery Network for Oxfordshire.

Posted: November 14, 2019