A wildlife trust wants to raise £220,000 to buy farmland and build the first nature reserve to cover both sides of the River Thames.
The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) needs the money to buy the ‘missing piece of wildlife jigsaw’ at Duxford Old River across the river from its Chimney Meadows nature reserve in west Oxfordshire.
This would create one of the largest nature reserves in the county and the first to cover both sides of the river anywhere along the Thames.
The trust’s director of conservation and education for the county, Neil Clennell, described the land as a “vast blank canvas with so much potential for wildlife”.
The aim is to merge the new 113-acre site into the Chimney Meadows nature reserve, which is more than 650 acres in size, and let Mother Nature ‘take the lead’.
Mr Clennell said: “In so many places wildlife is being squeezed out of its natural habitats where it used to flourish.
“Here the peaceful meanders of the old river are natural playgrounds for otters and water voles, and the reeds are full of dragonflies and damselflies.
“If the trust’s appeal is successful we’ll let Mother Nature take the lead, with just a little bit of help from us to get things going.
“BBOWT can take a step back, let nature lead the way and see what nature does with the site.”
Plans include letting the Thames flood onto the land to create pond and pool habitats for curlew, lapwing, snipe and teal.
Mr Clennell added: “We hope that Duxford Old River will develop into a wonderful, complementary mosaic of habitats to the meadows that we created on the northern bank of the river, completing this part of the upper Thames wildlife jigsaw.”
BBOWT has applied to trusts and grant-making bodies for funds. The public appeal for £220,000 would also contribute to the purchase.
Visit bit.ly/DuxfordOldRiver to donate.