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Environment and Energy


The University’s Overarching aim

To be a leading organisation within the sector in limiting negative and, where possible, having positive direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity and natural ecosystems so that the University’s practical performance in this area matches its aspirations to be a global leader in conservation.

Our targets:

  • In the expert opinion of the Ecological Advisory Panel, that no construction, refurbishment or maintenance work on the estate has a net negative impact on biodiversity and that, where possible, the impact is positive.
  • To use the Biodiversity Baseline to measure future improvements on Biodiversity in Cambridge.
  • To develop a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), which will provide directions for conserving and promoting biodiversity on the University’s estate, through future development work or more immediate actions identified as ‘quick wins’.

Our approach

Biodiversity Baseline: What biodiversity is there in Cambridge and where is it?

Biodiversity in Cambridge

In 2018 the University undertook a comprehensive audit of the biodiversity on its estate, generating a baseline of the species and habitats present. This will allow further work on biodiversity in the University to be compared against this baseline. The audit recorded 162 notable species on the estate, including 52 species of birds and 15 species of mammals. 

Notable sites of biodiversity in Cambridge

The university owns land which supports a variety of habitats, from lowland meadows to approximately 65 hectares of woodland. There are several notable sites for biodiversity, each playing a specific role to support the dynamic relationships between biodiversity enhancement, academic research and engagement with members of the university and the wider public.

  • Areas open to the public:
  • The Botanic Garden contains various habitats managed in a wildlife-friendly manner where everyone can enjoy local biodiversity.
  • 800 wood: adjacent to Madingley Wood, the largest planting project ever undertaken by the University of Cambridge. It contributed to 50% towards the county’s Local Habitat Action Plan which aimed to create 20 hectares of new woodlands by 2010 to link up to ancient woodland clusters.
  • Cambridge City: there are 12 Local Nature Reserves in Cambridge that provide an important contribution to the UK’s biodiversity whilst offering the opportunity to its citizens to enjoy such spaces.
  • Areas for engagement
Various University sites and departments have implemented enhancements for wildlife, and these provide a great opportunity for members of the University to become involved in helping to boost biodiversity onsite. An example is Greenwich House. The building is situated in a wooded area on Madingley Rise and in the last few years has carried out a number of actions to improve biodiversity, including installing bird and bat boxes and planting a wildflower meadow. 
  • Areas for research
Madingley Wood is used for specialist woodland research.

Biodiversity Baseline Summary Report

In this report, the University of Cambridge’s first biodiversity baseline, the key findings arising from the baseline assessment that was undertaken in 2017-2018 are summarised.

Conserving biodiversity is a challenge that all institutions face as they grow and develop. A number of recent reports have indicated large decreases in abundance of wildlife globally. As a research leader in this field, the University has made commitments to tackling this issue in its Environmental Sustainability Vision, Policy and Strategy, with the overarching aim outlined at the top of this page.

To measure future improvements, the University needs to understand the biodiversity it has. Under the guidance of its Ecological Advisory Panel, the University has undertaken an assessment of the current state of ecology on its estate. The baseline has been synthesised from a combination of ecological assessments, research records and input from local natural history groups. The baseline provides a basis for the University to take action on biodiversity in two major ways: Firstly, it will be used to develop the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) which will provide strategic direction for conserving and promoting biodiversity on the University’s estate, given future development work. Secondly, it will allow us to carry out more immediate work in areas which have been identified as ‘quick wins’.

Biodiversity Action Plan

The University is currently in the process of writing its first Biodiversity Action Plan to provide guidelines for enhancing biodiversity across the University.

How can you get involved?

There are many ways to get involved in biodiversity in Cambridge, here are a few of them:

  • Engage in your department or site with the 'Wilder Cambridge' project and take part in biodiversity-related activities to compete against other teams! You can get all the information related to the project, including a biodiversity engagement pack on our resources page.
  • Become involved in a local biodiversity organisation: Mammals, plants, birds, insects… whatever your interest is, chances are there is already an organisation you can get involved in! You can find a list of local organisations engaged in biodiversity here.
  • Download citizen science apps to record biodiversity wherever you go! There is already a Cambridge project on iRecord to which you can contribute.