Published: Monday, 22 May 2023

Today (May 22) is the International Day for Biological Diversity – an international awareness day to raise awareness of biodiversity issues around the world. But what is biodiversity?

For many people, the first thing you might think of ‘biodiversity’ is tree planting. And while that is useful when done correctly (we even have a newsletter series where you can find out tips and tricks) - there’s a lot more to it than that!

In simple terms, biodiversity is the variety and amount of different plants and animals within our city, and around the world - big or small. 

In Oxford, we are blessed with many unique habitats including lowland meadows at Port Meadow, woodlands such as Shotover Park, and wetland habitats like the Lye Valley Nature Reserve, plus many more beautiful locations. We also have grass verges around the city which are home to many plants, flowers, and insects. 

These habitats offer a range of benefits including carbon sequestration, improving air and water quality, and providing food sources and habitats plants, flowers, and pollinators such as birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, and more. These beautiful habitats also provide a great benefit for us as human beings, and many of us visit our parks and green spaces for picnics once the warm weather arrives (but please remember to pick up your litter when you leave).

However, biodiversity is not just limited to land owned by the City Council. We are also lucky enough to have a huge variety of landowners and individuals within Oxford who are trying to do really interesting things to conserve and enhance biodiversity – whether that is through larger biodiversity initiatives, or volunteering through local volunteering groups.

Where possible, our role as the City Council is to support local communities to take action. This has included helping to create a Hedgehog Action Plan with residents in Florence Park, installing an insect lodge at Wolvercote Cemetery, and working with the Swift City project to protect rare Swifts in Oxford.

On an individual level, residents can also get involved in supporting biodiversity within their own spaces. One of the best pieces of advice is you are looking to support biodiversity is to follow your interests, whether that is birds, bats, or just taking a step back and watching what appears in your garden during No Mow May – if there is something that interests you, use it as an opportunity to help it thrive. Our city is beautiful and it is important that we support biodiversity.

If you are looking for further tips and advice on how you can make a difference in your local area, check out the Climate Action Oxfordshire website for inspiration and advice.

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