OXFORDSHIRE needs to double its wildlife land by 2050 to save birds, flowers and insects vanishing at an ‘alarming’ rate.

The warning comes from environmental group Wild Oxfordshire, which has now developed a ‘nature recovery’ map to help tackle the local emergency.

The map, below, identifies places that could be enhanced to help nature to flourish again.

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Recovery zones include large green areas around Oxford, Witney and Bicester.

Witney Gazette:

Some of the endangered species that Wild Oxfordshire aims to save are the rapidly declining turtle dove and brown hare.

Mike Pollard from the conservation charity, who chairs the technical group that developed the map, said: “In particular, we want to expand and connect together the biggest and best places to create a green network where nature will be able to flourish.

“A healthy environment is essential for a successful economy and needs to go hand in hand with a green recovery.

“Nature offers great solutions to current problems like climate change and flooding.

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“It provides local green spaces for our health and wellbeing, and sustains our food supplies.”

The map is the culmination of work over the past nine months.

It marks the start of a major initiative to create a Nature Recovery Strategy for the county, according to Mr Pollard.

Witney Gazette:

Dan Carpenter from Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre led on the creation of the map that involved consultations with more than 60 experts from groups that have a stake in the county’s nature.

He said: “We brought together existing information on the most important areas for wildlife in Oxfordshire and identified areas of the landscape that could join these important assets together.”

The map created through this process comprises three zones – a core zone, which comprises the most important sites for biodiversity, a recovery zone, which includes freshwater areas, and a wider landscape zone.

Witney Gazette:

The Nature Recovery Network is also being used to help design Oxfordshire Plan 2050 – the brainchild of the six county authorities set help deliver affordable and social housing.

Making sure future developments are located in the right places will also be ‘key’ if nature is to make a comeback, the group said.

Conservation director for the Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Wildlife Trust Prue Addison is also part of the team developing the strategy.

Ms Addison said that, as presented in the Environment Bill, Nature Recovery Networks are intended as a ‘strategic land use decision making tool that will target activity to generate the greatest outcomes for wildlife’.

The team member added: “This will provide a means of integrating the environment into local decision making, and help channel novel funding streams into restoring the natural environment.”