NRN's Webinar Working Together for Wildlife was attended by over hundred people from local communities and parish councils, as well as officers and councillors from the districts and county council. After the meeting, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Yvonne Constance, wrote:
"That was a delightful event exploring the ambitions and the successes of your parish schemes, and those with other more urban experience.
It's a strong statement about how to get community action and it would be lovely to export your plans to all Oxfordshire parishes."
Joan Stonham reviews the webinar:
This webinar, arranged by Eynsham’s Nature Recovery Network, hosted by Stanton Harcourt Parish Council and funded by Natural England, highlighted the opportunities for our local councils to embrace their new responsibilities ‘to conserve and enhance biodiversity’ by tapping into community enthusiasm and expertise.
Common messages from the presentations…
In the face of finite resources, developer ambition and government inaction, a virtuous circle can emerge by engaging with residents and businesses in small-scale trials, by cascading know-how, sharing experiences and balancing feedback (there will always be a ‘squeaky wheel’), by adapting processes like grass cutting / pruning; and by opening up committee structures to keep up the conversation. Dip in and be inspired!
A few highlights from individual speakers…
Catriona Bass (Eynsham's NRN) pointed to water surveys and sewage monitoring across a group of parishes, as just one instance of a low-cost, soundly-based route to wider understanding.
Neil Clennell (CEO, Wychwood Project) praised ‘transformative’ work on Oxford Road playing field and spoke up for scruffiness in remoter places, where nature recovery will happen on its own.
Jane MacBean (Chesham Town Council) highlighted ambitious long-term plans for extensive areas and more immediate opportunities for personal development.
Ross Macken (Eynsham Parish Council) enthused on the energy and expertise he has encountered in his liaison role and supplied a useful list of lessons learned. It gets easier with time, he finds!