A Bucks area rich in wildlife in Aylesbury was given more protection, after a joint-up recovery plan was revealed today by a wildlife trust with funding from Bucks Council.

In addition to hosting rare bats, birds and butterflies, the 300km2 area has ancient woodland and scarce floodplain meadows.

The Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) revealed on March 21 they have proposed the area connecting Bernwood, Otmoor and the River Ray for a nature recovery plan.

This includes Aylesbury woodland in Finemere Wood near Quainton and Rushbeds Wood reserve.

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Prue Addison, Conservation Strategy Director and project lead at BBOWT, said:

"Our climate and environment are in crisis, and the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.

“This is one of the best remaining landscapes for wildlife in southern England, yet it is under threat. If we act now, there is huge potential here to restore wildlife, help nature's recovery and tackle climate change.

"In order to save wildlife, it isn't enough to protect species on isolated nature reserves: we need to make sure that species are able to move between sites so that populations can thrive.

Bucks Free Press: Rushbeds Wood, Aylesbury (Credit: Katherine Sutcliffe) Rushbeds Wood, Aylesbury (Credit: Katherine Sutcliffe)

“This project will help us to build a giant jigsaw puzzle of nature sites across two counties, creating more nature everywhere, which local people can enjoy as well."

Previously, the area was earmarked for development for the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway – a plan which was officially cancelled by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last year after the plan's costs were deemed ineffective.

After opposing the Expressway, the BBOWT welcomed the decision by Mr Shapps . 

But they said the area could still be developed for housing and sites like HS2 and sewage pollution in rivers were still a "serious threat". 

To identify the places for new protection areas, the team of specialists led by an environmental consultant Chris Bowden will work with local councils, environmental NGOs, landowners, farmers and local community groups.

The Wildlife Trust will also carry out a feasibility assessment and actions, which could help wildlife, including strategic land purchase, conservation works at existing sites and community and farmer engagement, the Trust said.

Councillor Jilly Jordan, Deputy Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, Buckinghamshire Council, said: "The Bernwood, Otmoor, Ray region has been identified by environmental stakeholders as a critical area, and is considered one of the best remaining ecologically coherent, large-scale landscapes in Southern England.

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“Buckinghamshire Council are pleased to support this project to see a Nature Recovery Plan developed for the region.

“This will lead to a pipeline of project ideas to address various environmental and social priorities within the region.”

The nature recovery plan announcement on Monday coincides with the United Nations International Day of Forests.