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Here at the University we believe that conserving biodiversity is inherently the right thing to do, we need to rebuild nature and give biodiversity a helping hand. Join our summer ‘Spot on!’ campaign to find out how your wildlife sightings can support a nature-friendly estate and future.

The campaign is packed full of talks and workshops, both in-person and online. From identification courses to wildlife walks, we’ve got something for everyone. 

What’s happening?

Back in March we launched our online iRecord account and user guide so that anyone over the age of 13 can submit their wildlife sightings (video instructions are also available). This user-friendly website (or app), acts as a database for species found across the University’s estate. Without data, we can’t identify the areas we’ve improved or those that need our attention.

The events below are designed to not only let you know why we need to focus on recording biodiversity here in Cambridge, but also to provide you with the confidence, skills and experience to contribute your own wildlife sightings. This campaign is for everyone, whether you’re a wildlife expert, novice, or anywhere in between!

All online events will be recorded.

Creating a nature-friendly estate and an introduction to iRecord

5 July, 12:00-13:00 

Join Mike Maunder, Executive Director of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and Chantal Helm from the Botanic Garden for the online launch of our ‘Spot on!’ campaign. We’ll be exploring why monitoring biodiversity matters and you’ll come away with tips and tricks for recording your own wildlife sightings.

Online introduction to insect ID

15 July, 12:30-13:30

This beginner’s guide to identifying insects will be hosted by Brian Eversham, CEO of BCN Wildlife Trust

Introduction to bats

15 July, 18:00-20:00

Ever wondered which species of bat you have in your garden or local green space? Perhaps you’d like to undertake an audit of bat species? This online workshop hosted by the Botanic Garden will reveal the tools and techniques available to help you do this.

Go wild in West Cambridge

20 July, 12:00-13:30

Have you seen the wildflower areas springing up across the University? If you want to see first-hand how our grounds teams are supporting a nature-friendly estate then come along on this informal wildlife walk for staff in West Cambridge.

Online workshop – Hedgehog Friendly Campus

22 July, 14:00-16:00

This workshop will demonstrate how to find out if there are hedgehogs using your campus and give you the chance to get involved in a site survey. The workshop is suitable for anyone who wants to learn more about hedgehog behaviour and ecology, or simply just wants to do something a little different.

Practical hedgehog survey workshop – Hedgehog Friendly Campus

22 July, 18:00-19:00

This practical workshop will involve surveying hedgehogs at the Botanic Gardens by setting up hedgehog tunnels. You will then be able to borrow the equipment to set up your own survey if you’d like to.

Bioblitz with the Botanic Garden and Museum of Zoology 

23 and 24 July  

Book onto a wildlife walk or drop-in to discover, identify and record the wonderful wild animals and plants of the Garden. There will also be a photography competition and we will again be using iRecord to collate all the wildlife records for the event. You can already start submitting your sightings in the Garden as well as see what others have already spotted this year, by using our iRecord CU Wildlife Recording account.

Online introduction to dragonfly ID

27 July, 12:00-13:00

Delivered by BCN Wildlife Trust, this workshop will help you learn how to identify dragonflies when you are out and about.

Online introduction to butterfly ID

29 July, 12:00-13:00

Delivered by BCN Wildlife Trust, this online workshop is a beginner’s guide to identifying butterflies. There are only around 60 species in the UK and many have simple say-what-you-see names, making butterflies a fantastic starter species for complete newcomers.

Online introduction to raptor ID

5 August, 13:00-14:00

A beginner’s guide to identifying birds of prey (raptors) with Henry Stanier, Great Fen Monitoring Officer with BCN Wildlife Trust.

Online introduction to wildflower ID

10 August, 12:30-13:30

A beginner’s guide to identifying common wildflowers with Matt Jackson, BCN Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Director.

Why does ‘Spot on!’ matter?

Beyond believing that biodiversity should be protected in and for its own right, conserving biodiversity also reaches to the core of quality of life, ecosystem services, economic advantages, wellbeing and health. Nature is a much-needed source of delight and optimism and, healthy, thriving ecosystems are intrinsic to our own futures. Large-scale change is needed but it starts on our own doorsteps. 

Back in October 2020 the University launched its first Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). The BAP provides a formal framework to meet one of our core sustainability objectives; to have a positive impact on biodiversity and ecosystems. To understand our progress towards this target, we need data. A biodiversity baseline was completed in 2018, which provides a great starting point for us but we need the help of the community to see how this data changes over time. If we don’t track the species we see, we can’t assess the effectiveness of our biodiversity measures. By contributing to this campaign you are contributing to a nature-friendly future, here in Cambridge and beyond.

Written by Rachel Steward, Environmental Manager