Cowley Deanery conservation project

This article first appeared in The Door July 2013 edition

AN Earthing Faith initiative to help congregations re-connect with nature has been launched in the Cowley deanery.

Andy with a feathered friend. The area, which is already renowned for the eco work done at St Mary and St John Churchyard, on the Cowley Road, is set to become the subject of a survey by A Rocha UK, a Christian environmental agency.

Dr Andy Gosler, (pictured right) a research lecturer in conservation and ornithology and a member of Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry, is the man behind the initiative. Andy has enlisted the help of local and national conservation and natural history groups. The scheme includes ringing robins so that children can identify them as individuals in churchyards and breakfast walks – early morning bird watching and wildlife walks in the deanery.

It is looking at a fungus survey in churchyards, looking at fungi and lichens that may have been growing for 800 or 900 years.

The Ashmolean Natural History Society, God’s Acre Foundation, Oxford Urban Wildlife Group and others are involved. “A Rocha wanted to set up an on-line system for recording nature in churchyards and wanted a couple of churches. I have offered them the whole deanery. They are looking at urban hubs, reconnecting urban situations with nature, and Oxford is the perfect place to test this,” said Andy, who is developing international links for the project and says it could spread from Cowley into other areas of the city. There is a lot that makes Cowley extremely suitable. There are significant areas of urban deprivation and problem areas. It’s exciting.”

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