Building Oxfordshire’s Freshwater Network

Building Oxfordshire’s Freshwater Network: Engaging People in Nature’s Recovery

Fowls Pill, Otmoor

@Oxon_FreshwaterNetwork

Building Oxfordshire’s Freshwater Network is the first project to put into practice Freshwater Habitats Trust’s new approach to the protection of freshwater biodiversity — the Freshwater Network. Running from September 2021 to March 2023 and with funding from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, the project is demonstrating this approach in Oxfordshire, one of the most important areas for freshwater wildlife in England.

The Freshwater Network is also being applied to the New Forest, one of the richest areas in Europe for freshwater wildlife — see here.

The Freshwater Network

The Freshwater Network aims to protect freshwater wildlife by creating a national network of healthy, unpolluted and interconnected freshwater landscapes, made up of:

  1. Important Freshwater Areas — the richest parts of the landscape for freshwater wildlife
  2. Floodplain Reserves — ranging from rewilded wet forests to floodplain wetlands
  3. Wetland Opportunity Areas — networks for creation and restoration of clean high quality freshwater and wetland habitats.

The approach focuses on the small freshwater and wetland habitats that make up most of the water environment, are critical for maintaining landscapes rich in freshwater biodiversity and are the easiest to manage, create and restore successfully. The freshwater biodiversity of Oxfordshire and how it connects across the landscape via the Freshwater Network is described at About Oxfordshire’s Freshwater Network.

Project aims

The Building Oxfordshire’s Freshwater Network project will:

  • showcase the Freshwater Network concept for freshwater and wetland creation and restoration
  • demonstrate the benefits and possibilities of working with small waterbodies and small wetlands
  • provide a model to inspire landowners and funders to help us build the Freshwater Network longer term, both in the county and beyond

In Oxfordshire, work on the Freshwater Network is initially focused on three key components — ponds, floodplains and alkaline fens — and on directly tackling the decline of some of the region’s most endangered wetland plants.

As well as protecting freshwater habitats and species, we’re connecting local people directly with nature conservation and training the next generation of wetland conservationists. We are engaging a wide range of local people to grow endangered wetland plants at home before ‘releasing’ them into the wild in high quality habitats that we’ve managed or created with our partners.

See below and follow the links to find out more about the project’s programmes.

Partners

In a project of this scale we couldn’t succeed without the help of like-minded conservation and community groups, so we’re very pleased to be working in partnership with:

Programmes

Building Oxfordshire’s Freshwater Network

The project will restore and create some of the county’s nationally important habitats:

  • Alkaline fens
  • Floodplain hay meadows
  • Floodplain Wetland Mosaic habitat

Floodplain Wetland Mosaic creation will focus on clean-water ponds and seasonal wetland habitats on floodplains, which we will be making at at four sites. Click here to learn more about our habitat restoration and creation work.

 

GroWet

We are harnessing the power of the community for wetland plant conservation, engaging over 1,000 people to grow some of Oxfordshire’s most endangered wetland plants at home. This will enable us to restore wetland plants to their natural ranges and replenish the diversity of our freshwater environment, while bringing many local people closer to wetland wildlife.

Click here to learn how you can get involved with our plant conservation programme.

 

Freshwater Futures

Wetland wildlife needs people with the practical and scientific skills to do the conservation work that is needed. That’s why the project is investing in people’s skills by training volunteers and funding three trainee positions at Freshwater Habitats Trust.

Click here to learn how you can gain skills through volunteering and see what our trainees are up to.