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NRN's Annual Gathering 12 Jun 2021 (Eynsham's Nature Recovery Network!) NRN's Annual Gathering: Inspiration and Useful Contacts. Nigel Pearce reports

Ideas and inspiration from the first Annual Gathering of Eynsham’s Nature Recovery Network

On 12 May 2021, many members of the Nature Recovery Network from Eynsham and the surrounding parishes joined the NRN Gathering via Zoom. We heard updates about all the local projects that are up and running, and the meeting finished with a call for ideas for the future. Here are some of them.

Exploring the idea of connecting people who have gardens and need help, with people who are keen to help but have no garden
Whether it is working on allotments, in private gardens, or managing gardens for wildlife, there maybe people who can’t manage the land they have and who would appreciate help and support from people who have knowledge, experience and energy but no land to work. If you are interested in exploring and developing such a project, contact Joan Stonham ([email protected]) or Martin Groves ([email protected])

Get more land under the control of the village

Neil Clenell would like us to buy, lease or otherwise get hold of areas of land outside the village itself for increasing local biodiversity. He gave a couple of examples: one opportunity that has slipped away, and one that could still happen.

A few years ago, an area of flood plain by the Wharf Stream (50 hectares) was on the market for £500,000. This sounds a lot of money, but it could have been raised through grants, crowd-funding, etc. It would have been ideal for a nature reserve, rather than just another quarry. Alas, it was not to be.

On a brighter note, along the footpath from the fire station behind the industrial park to Chilbridge Lane, there are two fields. One will disappear under the West Eynsham development, but the other could be offered to the Parish Council for nature recovery. Quite often leaving land to its own devices is a good way to restore nature – it is part of the recovery mix. Just stop doing things like mowing, for example. Benign neglect can be very cheap.

Cameras in your garden

Jennie Cadd, Secretary of the Oxford Mammal Group is offering a “trailcam” or box camera to borrow for your garden to film the wildlife there (video or stills). She can also get hold of instructions for you to make your own. If you leave your boxcam in the undergrowth for a few days, it is likely to collect images of voles, shrews, mice, hedgehogs and even the odd badger. Contact Jennie on [email protected]

Make litter disappear

Rebecca Tilders proposes that far more people in the village get involved in picking up the depressing amount of litter around the village. The existing litter-picking group are doing a great job once a month, but it is not enough. If more of us were seen around the village with a litter-picker and black bag, on a daily basis, we would make a massive impact.

The real problem is changing attitudes and behaviour, so that litter becomes as abhorrent here as it is in Germany. This is particularly important for wildlife: netting and twine, for example, will injure or kill birds and animals. We need to get this idea into schools.

Protect our trees

It may seem a little arrogant to suggest this, particularly if you are not an expert yourself, but those tree surgeons who learned their craft in the 20th century need to be re-educated. Wherever possible, trees that potentially pose some kind of hazard should be pollarded, not taken down. When they hollow out, they are not dying, they are adapting for continued life.

Tree Protection Orders (TPOs) can be used to protect trees in and around the village, and it is worth remembering that much of Eynsham is officially a Conservation Area. All its trees should effectively have TPOs. Any tree that has a TPO or is in a Conservation Area needs permission to have anything done to it, if it is over 3 inches (just under 8 centimetres) in diameter.

We need to get on with our tree survey and talk to the local authority about protecting veteran trees. Please contact NRN if you would like to get involved with this.

School Curiosity Boxes

We could create a curiosity box for schools and call it “the nature recovery kit”. If successful locally, it could be sold to schools all round the country and bring in some income for nature recovery network. Anyone with ideas for this or who would like to contribute to Tiny Talks for Children please email NRN

Giving Hedgerows a New Lease of Life

As you may have seen on their website, CPRE Oxfordshire has teamed up with Wild Oxfordshire to run a new community project to create and restore local hedgerows. Wild Oxfordshire approached Nature Recovery Network for help. NRN has offered to plant 1.2km of hedgerow in Eynsham and the surrounding parishes as part of the project.

This fits in well with a number of ideas that have been floating around in recent weeks, such as the suggestion by Standlake’s Amanda Stibrany to connect up theSchool villages in our Nature Recovery Network with hedges to form a network of hedgerow-based nature corridors. Amanda is part of the group that is growing Standlake’s nature recovery network.

It fits in, too, with a long-term vision that Freeland farmer Robert Crocker has for connecting his farm with his brother’s in a continuous hedgerow from West Oxfordshire to Cornwall.

If any individuals or groups in our Nature Recovery Network, including Parish Councils, have places for hedgerows or gaps to be filled, please let us know. For further details of CPRE’s initiative, see Giving Hedgerows a New Lease of Life. - CPRE Oxfordshire (cpreoxon.org.uk).

NRN – Making the whole greater that the sum of the parts

Catriona Bass explained that one of the key advantages of the NRN’s decentralised network approach (where individuals and groups with ideas can be connected with those with experience and then self-organise to implement them) is that we can pool expertise and scale up what we do for nature. So, for example, we have Bartholomew School the Beavers, the Eynsham Society and Peace Oak, and individual groups of residents all doing their bit for nature, connected but with their own peers or friends – and, further afield, we have NRN members in Cassington, Freeland, South Leigh, Stanton Harcourt and Standlake gathering their nature recovery forces.

The idea is a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts, which reaps benefits for everyone. This seems to have been borne out already in grant-making bodies seeking out NRN. The Trust for Oxfordshire Environment invited NRN to apply for funding for the meadow project, which has created meadows for the Playing Fields, St Leonard’s Church and contributed Peace Oak’s meadow. Wild Oxfordshire also approached
NRN to implement its hedge-planting project, which gives us more than a kilometre of trees to distribute as widely as we can throughout our villages. Now, we’ve been approached by the County Council with funding for trees…

But, decentralised as we are, the NRN needs our feedback to keep the WHOLE connected and to enable us to do even more for nature. So, please send us your stories of what you are doing for nature recovery, wherever you are, either by email and we’ll published it on our website or to our facebook page. Spread the knowledge! And ask questions – none is stupid. We

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