Nature groups join forces to benefit wildlife of river valleys in Bucks & Oxon

Two of the largest nature organisations in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire are working together to protect important places for wildlife in the Upper Thames region.

On Monday 20 April the RSPB and the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to work together on projects in the Upper Ray valley in Buckinghamshire, the River Thames above Abingdon, and the Thames tributaries including the Ock, Thame, Cherwell, Glyme, Evenlode and Windrush in Oxfordshire.

Steve Holliday, Midlands Regional Director, RSPB, joined Estelle Bailey, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trust at Iffley Meadows nature reserve in Oxford to sign the Memorandum of Understanding.

“Our two organisations have recognised for many years the quality of wildlife sites in the Upper Thames and the potential benefits of restoring floodplain meadow habitats,” said Steve Holliday.

“We have worked successfully together in the Ray Valley; supporting farmers who are restoring important wetland habitats. The new Memorandum of Understanding reflects our vision across a range of habitats in the wider Upper Thames area.

“In 30 years’ time the river valleys of the Upper Thames will be an even greater site for wildlife and communities. Our vision is to continue developing vital relationships with landowners, community groups and a host of dedicated local volunteers, local authorities, the Environment Agency and Natural England.”

Estelle Bailey, Chief Executive of BBOWT welcomed the chance to work closer with the RSPB. “The relationship between the two organisations is a good example of how working together makes a real tangible difference for wildlife. Through changes in land use we can halt the decline of wildlife and demonstrate what can be achieved through landscape-scale conservation work. Linking up fragmented sites across the river valleys of the Upper Thames will enable more wildlife including rare plants, insects, birds and mammals to thrive and survive.”

Representatives from RSPB and BBOWT celebrated their collaborative approach counting the snake’s-head fritillary plants at Iffley Meadows. The official count on 15 April recorded 89,830 plants. This is the best-ever number of plants recorded on site, and shows the work of the Wildlife Trust in managing the floodplain meadows is benefitting these rare plants. Before the Wildlife Trust took over the management of the site in 1983 there were only 500 plants counted here.