Doubling Nature Launch

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