Doubling Nature Investment Plan Scoping Study

To help inform the development of a Doubling Nature Investment Plan in Cambridgeshire, this study researched and compared current approaches to natural capital investment planning (NCIP) in the UK. The research included most of the current UK NCIP approaches and other organisations and individuals working in this field in Cambridgeshire and within the Oxford to Cambridge (OxCam) Arc. It comprised of desk research and interviews covering 22 approaches to NCIP with 26 individuals. The research focussed on their approaches, strategies, recommendations, the challenges they faced, the key strengths and weaknesses of their approaches and what advice they would give to a new natural capital investment plan project.

The report presents practical recommendations from current UK approaches and then proposes options and opportunities for a natural capital investment approach in Cambridgeshire. So, the report explains what others have done, or are doing, and explains how these approaches could be successfully applied to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Natural Cambridgeshire are using this research to help develop a Doubling Nature Investment Plan for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, they are currently designing their approach and seeking funding.

Click the link to learn more about Doubling Nature Investment Plan Scoping Study.

Launch of the Doubling Nature Ambitions report

Natural Cambridgeshire, the local nature partnership, has today announced ambitious plans to doubling Nature with the area of rich wildlife habitats and natural green space across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with the aim of creating a world-class environment where nature and people thrive, and businesses prosper.

The ambition has been drawn up by the partnership, including local authorities, statutory agencies, conservation charities, housing developers and community groups. It was launched today by Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England and James Palmer, Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, at separate events at Waterbeach Barracks and O&H Hampton, both outstanding examples of how high-quality housing development can deliver new areas of nature rich landscape.

Click the link to learn more about the Doubling Nature ambitions.

The Future of Doubling Nature within Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire currently has one of the smallest areas of any county in the country, relative to size, of land managed for nature. Natural Cambridgeshire wants to double that figure, from around 8% to 16% (which is the national average) through a combination of

The delivery of existing habitat restoration schemes

Such as Great Fen, Wicken Fen, Ouse Fen and the Ouse Washes – between them these projects have already identified 5100 hectares of potential new wildlife rich land

The opportunities provided by the Combined Authority’s economic growth agenda

if planned and co-ordinated well, housing, mineral extraction and infrastructure development can create large areas of new green space and rich wildlife habitats– good for nature and for people. The way forward has already been shown through nature friendly housing developments at Hampton, Alconbury, Waterbeach, Cambourne, Trumpington and the creation of diverse wetlands post gravel extraction at Ouse Fen and Fen Drayton. Peterborough’s Ferry Meadows is another example of land for nature that has been created through gravel extraction. Natural Cambridgeshire estimates that the planned housing growth over the next 30 years could provide another 2000 hectares of land for nature.

The planned re-focusing of agricultural subsidies on the delivery of public services

including climate change mitigation, flood prevention and the creation of wildlife habitats. There are already many good local examples of landowners and farmers managing large areas of land for nature within profitable farming businesses. For example, Farmers within the Thorney Farmland Bird Friendly Zone and the Ely Nature-Friendly Farming Zone, which together cover more than 20,000 acres of land, give over 3-10% of their land to nature through planting pollen and nectar and winter seed mixes, incorporating skylark plots, fallow and cover crops into their productive land, and enhancing the contours of their ditches to provide habitat for birds, mammals and different flora. Natural Cambridgeshire wants to work with them and others to expand these schemes and join them up.

Making our current greenspaces better for nature

Natural Cambridgeshire believes both new and existing residents need to be able to enjoy nature close at hand. Through small changes to the management of our amenity land in our towns and cities we can create both more nature and more attractive places to live and exercise. Natural Cambridgeshire is working with all the local authorities across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire on the Future Parks Accelerator project (one of eight national pilots) which will allow us to identify the step changes needed to deliver this.

Creating new sources of investment in our natural capital

Natural Cambridgeshire intends to apply the learning and best practice from elsewhere in the UK and overseas to help create new investment opportunities in the maintenance and enhancement of our natural capital. These might contribute, for example, to creating new wildlife habitats, or to improving soils or water quality.

Introductions to the Doubling Nature plans

Introducing the plans, Richard Astle, Chair of Natural Cambridgeshire said, “Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have some very attractive landscapes and many special areas designated for their rich wildlife. But our natural environment faces significant challenges. We have fewer areas of nature-rich land than most other counties. And this matters in the context of the climate emergency that we are well aware of now. A doubling of nature is a critical part of responding to the climate challenge, with nature providing an essential role in our ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change. If we act now and put nature at the heart of our area’s growth agenda, we have an opportunity to reverse that trend and ensure that people and nature thrive together.”

‘’Climate change and biodiversity loss are two of the biggest challenges facing our generation. It is absolutely essential that development delivers a better natural environment alongside economic growth. I therefore strongly support the ambition here in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to do just that and great partnership taking place across different sectors to make it happen.’’

Chair of Natural England, Tony Juniper

“The ambitious growth agenda for the economy needs to be matched with an ambitious growth agenda for the environment. I welcome Natural Cambridgeshire’s ambition to double the amount of land that is actively managed for nature so that we can deliver cleaner water, cleaner air and bigger and better places where people and nature can thrive together. An ambitious vision for a high-quality natural environment is essential for contributing to the standard of life that will attract and retain the skilled workers required for growth over the next 30 years.”

Mayor James Palmer

“Natural Cambridgeshire’s vision recognises that the growth agenda is a huge opportunity for us to build a much improved natural environment. Our development is a great example of how Natural Cambridgeshire’s vision can be achieved. The ambition is good for nature, good for people and good for business and the economy. Through a combination of growth projects where nature is designed in from the start; refocused agricultural subsidies and the expansion of existing nature reserves we have a clear way forward.”

Rebecca Britton, Roger Tallowin

“Peterborough wants to be the Environment Capital of the country and Natural Cambridgeshire’s new ambition will be part of that agenda. As a city we are surrounded by wonderful countryside where nature thrives and can prosper even more in the future, helping people live healthier lives, but I am also keen to ensure that the natural environment agenda works for our inner cities too and hope to work with Natural Cambridgeshire to develop ideas for this.”

Leader of Peterborough City Council, John Holdich

“As Leader of FDC I’m also a member of the Board of the Peterborough & Cambridgeshire Combined Authority, where my responsibilities include the introduction of a Non-statutory Spatial Framework (NSSF) for the Combined Authority area, seeking to establish a framework for development over the next 31 years.  Development generally, but residential development in particular, has the potential to provide a significant contribution to the “Doubling Nature” agenda and I am very keen to see that agenda incorporated within the NSSF for Cambridgeshire & Peterborough.”

Leader of Fenland District Council, Chris Boden

“The new ambition follows on from Natural Cambridgeshire’s earlier document “A Natural Future for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough” which outlined how each of the area’s varied landscapes could be enhanced over the next 30 years to help create a world-class environment. Natural Cambridgeshire also launched last year its Developing with Nature Toolkit, which sets out straight forward steps to ensure new developments support the recovery of local wildlife.

Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, Anna Bailey

Relevant Information

Natural Cambridgeshire is the local nature partnership for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. A full list of partners can be found on the Natural Cambridgeshire website

Background on key habitat restoration projects can be found at:

Please click the link to find more information on:

Media enquiries to Richard Astle, Chairperson, Natural Cambridgeshire – 07885 252571

Members of Natural Cambridgeshire include;

  • Richard Astle, Athene Communications
  • Matthew Bradbury, Nene Park Trust
  • Rebecca Britton, Urban and Civic
  • John Torlesse, Natural England
  • Oliver Burke, Nene Park Trust
  • Martin Baker, Wildlife Trust
  • Roger Mitchell, Cambridge Conservation Forum
  • Ben Brown, Speciality Register Public Health
  • Cameron Adams, Environment Agency
  • Phil Clark, Natural Cambridgeshire
  • Michael Firek, Living Sport
  • Sarah Smith, National Trust
  • Carly Leonard, Peterborough Environment City Trust
  • Julia Beeden, Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Chris Dungate, Groundwork East

Growing our Green Space

Natural Cambridgeshire has joined forces with Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Local Authorities, nature conservation organisations and local businesses. Securing funding from the National Lottery Heritage  Fund (NLHF), the National Trust and Ministry for Health and Local Communities (MHCLG). To launch the Future Parks Accelerator (FPA), which is a UK-wide > £10 million strategic initiative to enable a small cohort of local authorities and communities. The aim is to develop and implement bold, innovative funding and management solutions for all their green spaces across their area.

Our partnership bid, led by Cambridgeshire County Council, has secured £700K. This funding will help to secure the future of Cambridgeshire’s parks and green spaces. This will be accomplished by;

  • building lasting cross-sector partnership solutions,
  • identifying sustainable sources of funding and investment,
  • identifying partnership models,
  • building community ‘ownership’ and involvement
  • by providing skills and training to grow our green spaces.
For constant updates visit our social media pages



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Wildlife Trust launch their Wilder Future campaign

Badger, Toad, Mole and Ratty find themselves in serious trouble when they return to the Willows! Join us for a #WilderFuture and play your part in nature’s recovery.

Sir David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry have backed a new campaign from The Wildlife Trusts that calls for a wilder future and for nature’s recovery in the UK. The conservationist and actors have starring roles in a new The Wind in the Willows film trailer which brings to life the 21st century threats facing the much-loved characters from Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic. The animated trailer calls on everyone to help bring our wildlife back before it’s too late, so that we can all enjoy a wilder future.

The film trailer shows how the lives of Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad are disrupted by roads, river pollution and intensive agriculture – many habitats have been destroyed and others have been broken up. Toad hangs a picture of a puffin entangled in plastic on the wall in Toad Hall. “Farewell old friend” he says.

Workshop showcases toolkit for sustainable development

Left to right: Cllr Bridget Smith (Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council), Martin Baker (Conservation Manager at Wildlife Trust), Christine de Ferrars Green (Partner at Mills & Reeve) and Rebecca Britton (Chair of the Developers Panel for Natural Cambridgeshire and part of Urban&Civic team)

Developers, planners and environmental consultants recently attended a workshop to understand how Natural Cambridgeshire’s Developing with Nature Toolkit can help them bring forward new homes and communities in a way that enhances the natural environment and increases the area’s biodiversity.

Greater Cambridgeshire is one of the fastest growing areas within England, with plans for significant additional development and major infrastructure to provide tens of thousands of new homes and significant new employment opportunities over the coming decades. The Toolkit will help to ensure that Cambridgeshire grows well and delivers a great quality of life for people and nature to coexist in harmony.

The Developing with Nature Toolkit has been produced to help developers and infrastructure providers to demonstrate their commitment to achieving a net biodiversity gain and comprises a simple list of “10 Things to do for Nature”.

Speaking at the event, Cllr Bridget Smith, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “With all of the growth planned for this area, it is vitally important we set the bar high and ensure developers work hard with local partners to deliver the green space needed for people and nature, as well as well-connected, energy efficient homes that provide affordable living for more people.

“This Toolkit highlights best practice and sets out a framework that pushes developers to deliver meaningful environmental benefits. We are also looking at how we can embed this within the planning process for South Cambridgeshire and across work being taken forward across the Oxford Cambridge Arc.”

New developments that adhere to sound sustainability principles can ensure the protection and enhancement of our natural environment by creating high-quality multifunctional habitats that protect and support a wide range of species. The provision of on-site and wider landscape-scale high-quality natural environments also enhances a new place and attracts additional investments.

Christine de Ferrars Green, Partner at Mills & Reeve, who hosted the workshop, said:

“We were pleased to support this event and help promote the Developing with Nature Toolkit to developers and partners within the property sector. It is clear that quality of life – for people and nature – is increasingly important within the planning process and also for customers, and this event enabled healthy debate about how the development community can use the Toolkit to take this forward.”

The Toolkit is primarily intended for major developments requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment and can be used from the very outset of planning new developments, early consultation and right through to detailed design. It provides a scoring matrix, guidance notes with links to background information, and includes a summary map of Greater Cambridgeshire’s strategic green infrastructure and ecological priorities.

Rebecca Britton, Chair of the Developers Panel for Natural Cambridgeshire, and part of the Urban&Civic team taking forward 3 strategic developments in Cambridgeshire said:

“The scale of developments we are taking forward at Alconbury Weald and Waterbeach mean you simply have to have close working relationships with key environmental partners, as well as extensive support from ecologists and landscape teams working at the heart of the design and delivery process. The Developers Panel and the Toolkit are about building support, examples and frameworks which can share best practice approaches at all scales of development. Planned well, new developments can play a transformative role in bringing forward and managing new habitats and green spaces, supporting species and connecting people to nature.”

Martin Baker, Conservation Manager at The Wildlife Trust, said:

“The Toolkit is about providing a framework that enables discussions about the best approaches from initial site selection, through consultation to delivery and long-term maintenance.

The scoring matrix should provide some measure for developers to test their own approaches, but some of the core benefits of this approach come from meaningful debate and ongoing relationships with environmental groups – from statutory partners in the DEFRA family to local wildlife groups and charities.

“We live in the least wooded county in the least wooded country in Europe, with only 4.8% of the county counted as wildlife-rich habitats. By working together we can ensure the growth planned for Cambridgeshire enables the best outcomes for nature and the local community, as well as a real sense of ownership and support for new developments.”

For more information see the Developing with Nature Toolkit.

Cambridgeshire is Naturally Healthy

Our highly successful Naturally Healthy Conference was held in March 2019 and following this we’ve published the presentations and case studies delivered by the guest speakers.


Findings from IWUN – Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature
by Dr Nicola Dempsey, University of Sheffield

Generating Health Benefits through Nature
by Professor Catherine Ward Thompson, Edinburgh University

Social Prescribing in the East of England
by Dr Mark Brookes, Nuffield Road Medical Centre

Case studies

Active Outdoors
By Michael Firek, Physical Activity Projects Manager at Living Sport

Delivering Health Benefits in the Natural Environment
by Carly Leonard, PECT

Life Chances Fund – Well Together
by Leonie McCarthy, PCVS

Developing with Nature Showcase

Natural Cambridgeshire and Mills & Reeve will be holding a joint event on Friday 8 March to showcase the Developing with Nature Toolkit. The Toolkit, which was launched in October, aims to support developers to bring forward new homes and communities in a way that enhances the natural environment and achieves a net gain in the area’s biodiversity.

Greater Cambridgeshire is one of the fastest growing areas within England, with plans for significant additional development and major infrastructure to provide tens of thousands of new homes and significant new employment opportunities over the coming decades. The Toolkit, with support from the partners, will help to ensure that together we make Cambridgeshire grow well and deliver a great quality of life for people and nature.

Please come along to our breakfast event to find out more about how the Toolkit can help your development achieve top marks and become an exemplar for people and nature.

Register for this event on the Mills & Reeve website.

Sponsored by

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Economic Strategy

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority have recently launched their economic strategy for the area.  As well as recognising that it will be vital that “new development is done not just well, but in an exemplary fashion. It also acknowledges the need for “good place making which demonstrates that if transport and new housing are well-planned, then economic, social and environmental benefits can all be achieved.

Natural Cambridgeshire is working with the Combined Authority to ensure that the benefits of a high quality natural environment and green infrastructure is an important factor in attracting people to live and work in the area.


A natural future for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Where nature thrives, it provides us with clean water, fertile and healthy soils, natural flood control, greater biodiversity, natural pollinators and much more. Also, places with accessible, wildlife rich green-spaces attract more people to work and live there, improve health and wellbeing and provide leisure and recreation opportunities.

Our vision values the wildlife we have now and the tremendous opportunities presented to build a richer natural environment with benefits for everyone. Working together, we have the means to create that future.

Despite losses, nature is returning and there are wonderful wildlife sights in Cambridgeshire see the Ten reasons to value our natural environment throughout our new booklet.

Natural Cambridgeshire business plan

Natural Cambridgeshire are pleased to announce the launch of our new business plan, kindly supported with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It sets out and ambition and realistic plan for improving the natural environment of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough for the next three years.

We want to see “a Cambridgeshire that has the highest quality of life, because we place nature at the heart of our agenda. A Cambridgeshire which appreciates that to prosper people need a high quality environment in which nature thrives alongside jobs and housing.”

The business plan for the Natural Cambridgeshire:

  • draws agreed direction and preferred options from the Board workshop
  • sets out the organisation’s governance arrangements
  • relates the activities to the outcomes and Vision the LNP is aiming to achieve and meeting clear customer needs
  • sets out a single LNP work programme that aligns existing work streams with HLF funded work outcomes, using the remaining HLF funding efficiently and gaining best value
  • focuses on communication, marketing and funding requirements, and
  • identifies ways for monitoring and measuring success, through qualitative and quantitative indicators, specifying outputs, outcomes and impacts.