Get stuck in at nature sites

thisisoxfordshire: Andy Gunn uses a scythe to clear a path at the Rivermead Nature Park in Rose Hill. Picture: OX64210 Cliff Hide Buy this photo » Andy Gunn uses a scythe to clear a path at the Rivermead Nature Park in Rose Hill. Picture: OX64210 Cliff Hide

A WILDLIFE charity has struck a deal to work on Oxford nature sites in a bid to increase biodiversity and attract volunteers.

The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust has won lottery funding to hold events and carry out conservation work at the sites.

They are Lye Valley in Headington, Rivermead Nature Park, Rose Hill and Chilswell Valley near South Hinksey.

All are owned and managed by Oxford City Council but the charity hopes extra manpower and expertise through the Wild Oxford project will attract visitors.

Project manager Andy Gunn said: “The aim is to bring the long-term management of the sites into a better state and leave a legacy of volunteering.

“The sites are managed well but with more capacity they could potentially be managed better.”

Getting people involved in taking care of the sites is key, he said.

“The idea is to inspire people to get involved in that and hopefully pass that back to the council. It can then continue the work with that new volunteer force.”

Conservation skills such as coppicing, hedgelaying and scything will be taught through the project, being organised with the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

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Work will include cutting back reeds to open up Lye Valley to make it feel less “isolated” for visitors, he said.

He said of Rivermead Nature Park in Rose Hill: “The idea is to make the site more attractive for local people.

“Some comments we have received say it isn’t very open any more and some said it attracts antisocial behaviour.”

The work is being funded with £54,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £7,100 from TOE (Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment), which gives out cash from landfill tax credits.

City council executive board member for sport, parks and events, Mark Lygo, said: “This is an exciting project and I hope that our communities get involved.”

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