Earth Trust green space management expands

Earth Trust has been awarded an expanded contract by South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils to manage additional nature reserves and community green spaces across Oxfordshire.

Building on its successful track record stewarding sites in Wallingford, Didcot and Abingdon, including Wallingford Castle Meadows and Abbey Fishponds, Earth Trust will now also oversee management of Tuckmill Meadows Reserve in Shrivenham, a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and Besselsleigh Wood near Appleton. Crucial to that success has been Earth Trust’s extensive volunteer community, which has provided over 15,000 hours of support across existing sites in 2022-23 alone.

“We’re thrilled that Oxfordshire councils have entrusted these greenspace gems into our care,” said Jayne Manley, Earth Trust CEO. “It highlights the important contribution of Earth Trust’s role in enabling community-driven nature recovery and the need for more local greenspaces on peoples’ doorsteps.

“Through volunteer passion and dedication, together we can effectively manage sensitive habitats and increase access to nature. We are indebted to them and look forward to our continued partnership.”

Tuckmill meadows

Tuckmill Meadows – Friends of Tuckmill

Andrew Busby, Head of Development and Corporate Landlord at South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils, said: “South Oxfordshire District Council has been working with Earth Trust for more than 20 years managing specific countryside sites. During that time, we have worked closely with the trust to develop Wallingford Castle Meadows into an award-winning site celebrating its heritage and biodiversity with its Green Flag and Green Heritage Awards. It is great news that we can now continue this successful partnership helping to maintain these important areas.”

He added; “Since its initial involvement with the Vale of White Horse District Council at Abbey Fishponds and underpinned by the councils’ principles of supporting the environment and working with local volunteer groups, Earth Trust has worked with the council to deliver huge improvements to the biodiversity of the site, restoring important habitats such as reedbeds and providing a home for many rare species. It is great to see that the new contract will now expand the partnership to help us to better manage our sites in Shrivenham and Besselsleigh.”

Besselsleigh Wood

Besselsleigh Wood

The new sites add more than 35 acres of natural habitats to Earth Trust’s portfolio, including wildflower meadows, ancient woodlands, and a wetland home to over 450 recorded plant and animal species. While bringing its extensive experience managing sensitive ecological areas to bear, Earth Trust is looking forward to working with the existing volunteer groups already established in both locations.

“Local residents have put in countless hours tending these green spaces over the years, and we want to support them in continuing that important work while pursuing wider goals around conservation and community engagement,” said Simon Atkinson, Director of Green Infrastructure and Nature Recovery at Earth Trust. “It’s a model we’ve seen succeed across our community reserves.”

John Page, Chair of the Besselsleigh Wood Group (BWG), said “As a group of amateur volunteers who care for the Besselsleigh Woods we are delighted to welcome Earth Trust’s professional involvement. Their knowledge and expertise will bring enormous benefit to the current care and future guardianship of our much loved woodland.”

The expanded contract allows Earth Trust to advance its key aims around championing accessible green spaces where people and nature can thrive together and demonstrating nature-based solutions that influence regional environmental policy.