Photo of a signpost on the ridgeway - showing footpath and bridleway directions

Equitable distribution of nature-rich accessible green space: An Oxfordshire case study

Source:
Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery
Publication type:
PDF

There are well known links between health and spending time in green spaces, as shown by the increased interest in social prescribing. However, there is evidence that the most deprived communities have least access to green space, that more deprived communities receive greater benefits from green space1, and that not all green spaces have similar impacts, with more biodiverse areas providing greater benefits. Oxfordshire’s Local Nature Partnership wishes to understand the equality of access to green space, in terms of quantity and quality, across the county to help prioritise effort and funding.

The project has identified neighbourhoods that are relatively deprived according to socio-economic measures and lack access to greenspace on a number metrics (including amount of greenspace, greenspace crowding and private gardens). These neighbourhoods, predominantly in urban areas, are presented as priorities for greenspace funding and effort. Although it is often virtually impossible to create new greenspaces in densely populated urban environments, existing greenspaces can be improved and protected from development, and innovative ways of increasing green infrastructure can be considered, such as greening active travel routes and pocket parks. In approaching such efforts, it is important that local communities are consulted and engaged in decision making, to ensure that local greenspace works for those using it. Recommendations for Oxfordshire greenspace based on the report have been developed with local government officers and NGOs with responsibilities and / or interest in the subject.

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Oxfordshire Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) guiding principles

Source:
OLNP's Biodiversity Net Gain working group
Publication type:
PDF

The Oxfordshire Local Nature Partnership proposes that Oxfordshire's Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) adopt the principles the working group, which includes representatives from local authority planning departments, have developed for Biodiversity Net Gain implementation. 

The intent of these principles is to ensure that Biodiversity Net Gain is implemented in a way that supports the spirit of the Environment Act 2021 and maximises Biodiversity Net Gain’s potential impact on nature recovery in Oxfordshire. They are designed to facilitate a harmonised approach across all local authority areas, recognising that some local variations may be inevitable and indeed beneficial. Our aspiration is that they will provide a common framework within which local authorities, developers, conservation bodies, farmers and landowners work together to protect and restore our county’s nature.

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Understanding the barriers to greenspace access

Source:
Natural England and Oxfordshire County Council
Publication type:
PDF

Access to green space and connection with nature are key determinants of physical and mental wellbeing. Yet some groups face significant barriers to access, many of which are poorly understood. Greenspace & Us is a community insights partnership project that used participatory and creative approaches to understand the barriers and enablers influencing access to greenspace for young women in East Oxford. The project was supported by Oxfordshire County Council and funded by Natural England.

Over the course of three months, we gathered a wide range of qualitative and quantitative data to understand these issues, via a survey of secondary school-aged children and a series of six workshops with twenty young women aged 10-16 living in East Oxford. As well as developing shared knowledge as a group, young women were supported to translate this into a Greenspace & Us Manifesto document and accompanying physical artwork.

Some of our main findings include:

• Young women were much less likely than their male counterparts to view greenspaces as active or sporting environments, instead seeing them as places to relax, de-stress and socialise.

• Whilst both real and theoretical mental wellbeing benefits of spending time in greenspace were recognised, lived experience suggests that these are not always available.

• There are large disparities in the distribution of space and provision of equipment and facilities in local parks and other greenspaces to meet different needs – resulting in ‘male dominated’ spaces where young women and girls feel unwelcome and sometimes unsafe.

Learning from these insights and a range of solutions identified by young people themselves. The report makes a number of recommendations to address young women’s capability, opportunity and motivation to spend time in greenspaces.

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Evidence to Inform BNG Target

Source:
Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
Publication type:
Word doc

Analysis shows that Oxfordshire is very nature-deprived compared to the average for England as a whole. In addition, Oxfordshire’s remaining semi-natural habitats face intense pressure from housing and infrastructure development. Further, recent analysis has shown that most biodiversity units are delivered on site, with only around 7% currently being delivered off-site.

Preliminary analysis indicates that a target of 10% BNG would only generate enough off-site biodiversity units to fund a maximum of 11% of the estimated costs of reaching the 30x30 nature recovery target (30% of land protected and managed for nature by 2030).

This paper concludes that the national minimum target of 10% BNG will not be sufficient to reverse the historic losses caused by development in Oxfordshire during the current local plan periods, and play a significant role in delivering the national and local biodiversity targets for 2030. Other councils in similar positions have chosen higher targets (e.g. 20% in Surrey) in order to increase confidence that genuine gains for biodiversity can be delivered.

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Financing local nature recovery in Oxfordshire

Source:
Leverhulme Institute
Publication type:
Website

The article discusses the financing of local nature recovery in Oxfordshire. The Local Nature Partnership (LNP) aims to radically enhance nature in the county, and the Finance Gap for UK Nature report revealed that £56 billion in investment is needed to meet nature-related outcomes in the next ten years.

This project aimed to investigate the potential revenue that could be generated over the next ten years through purchasing Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) offsets by developers in Oxfordshire, and the extent to which this could contribute to the estimated costs of nature recovery. The project found that the potential revenue from BNG offsets could be significant, and that this could be a valuable source of funding for nature recovery in Oxfordshire.

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