Ecologist and campaigner Judy Webb is determined to not let any species go extinct under her watch.

Dr Webb, 69 from Kidlington has won a place on the prestigious BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour 2020 Power List: Our Planet.

The chair of the Friends of Lye Valley in Oxford and one of the county’s leading ecologists is listed as one of 30 exceptional women who have made major contributions to the environment and sustainability.

Dr Webb is in good company, two other women who have made valuable contributions to the environment and Oxford are also on the list. They are Caroline Lucas, Oxford’s first Green Party councillor, and now an MP for Brighton; and Brenda Boardman, energy efficiency expert.

Dr Webb is overjoyed to be on the list. She said: “I am deeply honoured, and I knew nothing about it until I got the email.”

The campaigner says she has always been interested in ecology and saving rare species. In the 70s she completed a degree in Botany and Zoology and later she was a teacher at Milham Ford School. Now, she dedicates her time to helping biodiversity in Oxfordshire.

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She said: “I have seen a lot of things disappearing, which is why I am desperate to try and work to save the species and habitats.”

Dr Webb said she first became interested in the Lye Valley in 2003 and in 2013 she started started the Friends of Lye Valley group to help rare species.

She said: “I could see it needed a lot of help and there are some really important species there that I could see were going to go unless we got more conservation management done.”

The Lye Valley nature reserve in Headington and it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Ms Webb has campaigned to save the site from ‘problematic’ plans for new houses on the north side of Lye Valley nature reserve.

Dr Webb said: “People should love and appreciate nature because they will only save things that they love. You get people walking the site and seeing how marvellous it is, you tell them about the risk and then you get more support and people enjoy it more.”

Oxford Mail:

Striving to help biodiversity, Ms Webb helps a range of rare plants and insects, and not just the pretty ones.

She said: “A lot of rare species are not amazingly beautiful ones, but who knows we might have a cure for something in these rare plants in the future.

“Everything plays a small part; I am all about bringing back biodiversity and saving the rare species.”

Dr Webb said she has even been helping to save a rare species of fly found in wetland areas called fens.

The ecologist and campaigner protects parks and nature reserves across the city and county.

At Cutteslowe Ponds she introduced some creeping marshwort plants to the ponds.

Creeping marshwort for a long time could only be found at Port Meadow and it was critically endangered, however Dr Webb managed to help the species repopulate.

She said: “With permission we collected some plants from Port Meadow and Oxford Botanic garden grew them and then bits of that were tried at Cutteslowe Ponds and they are growing famously.”

She also planted greater water parsnip plants in ponds caged off to protect them from deer and clearing unwanted vegetation. The greater water parsnip plant is tall with white flowers and it is rare nationally and by replanting she has given space for the population to grow.

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The ecologist volunteers for Natural England and is a species recorder at Aston Rowant near in the Chilterns.

When recording data Dr Webb discovered plant species which the nature reserve was unaware was growing on the site.

In the summer, she found Devil’s bolete Rubroboletus satanas, a UK Red List fungus which was verified by expert Alan Hills.

She said: “It was my most exciting fungal discovery of my nine years so far surveying for Natural England there.”

She also found Thyme rust gall on Thymus polytrichus in October this year which is only the second British record in the last 50 years.

Dr Webb explained the importance of knowing what rare species are living in the area.

She said: “I do think there is a lot of problems in nature reserves that people don’t know what is there to begin with and then they start chopping things back and digging things up. With the best intentions they could destroy something rare.”

Dr Webb also explained that planting trees in the wrong place, such as wildflower meadows, could kill the flowers which are needed for bees.

She added: “Everyone is so keen to plant trees, but if you do not survey first you could plant trees in the wrong place and you could destroy a rare species that was already there.”