Plan proposed to help protect and enhance nature in Cambridge
A commitment to end the routine use of pesticides and increase the city’s tree canopy coverage are among a raft of measures proposed by Cambridge City Council.
Residents will be invited to have their say on the proposed Cambridge Biodiversity Strategy 2021-30, which sets out how the council will manage its estate to protect and enhance nature and wildlife in the city.
The council currently manages more than 80 parks and open spaces over 742 hectares, as well as 23 kilometres of watercourse, including internationally important chalk streams and large stretches of riverbank along the River Cam.
These habitats are home to a variety of wildlife including nationally significant species such as water vole, peregrine falcon and bats.
Cllr Alex Collis, executive councillor for open spaces, sustainable food and community wellbeing, said: “Our new biodiversity strategy is a comprehensive plan of action for the coming decade which will mean biodiversity is enhanced and protected in Cambridge in a variety of ways.
“The last 15 months have proved how important nature and open spaces are to so many people living in a city.
“Even as Cambridge grows and changes, this strategy will ensure that biodiversity is at the forefront of everything the council does, and that our green spaces continue to benefit nature, wildlife and people too.”
The proposed strategy sets out a series of objectives under three main themes: biodiversity mainstreaming, the core and nature in your neighbourhood.
These three themes encompass a number of specific actions that the council proposes to undertake during the lifespan of the new strategy. These include:
- Publishing a ‘Parks Biodiversity Toolkit’ to help local groups identify small-scale projects for local parks and open spaces
- Implementing campaigns to reduce pressure on some sites due to activities such as dog walking, and appealing for more volunteers to work on projects in open spaces
- Undertaking a review of council buildings to identify opportunities to retrofit them with ‘green roofs’
- Working with the charity Action For Swifts to identify locations to install more swift boxes across the city
- Planting new trees to achieve an increase in the city’s tree canopy coverage from 17% to 19%, so that they can help relieve the effects of climate change
- Developing a grazing strategy for the city’s commons which benefit from having animals graze there
- Continuing the Greater Cambridge Chalk Stream Project to enhance these internationally significant habitats, as well as enhance and reinstate ditches and other watercourses on council-managed land
- Working with others on the Keep Cambridge Buzzing campaign to encourage wildflower growth for pollinators
- Committing to end the routine use of pesticides
- Expanding the local nature reserve at Logan’s Meadow
- Recreating a historical network of hedges in King’s Hedges ward
- In developing the proposed strategy, a baseline of habitats and their condition has been established for the open spaces managed by the council, to help ensure that gains in biodiversity can be accurately measured.
- A biodiversity audit was also commissioned, which identified the key pressures on biodiversity in Cambridge including the loss, fragmentation or degradation of habitats due to causes such as urbanisation, recreational pressure, depletion of the water aquifer, and climate change.
The new strategy aims to build on the successes of the council’s current 2006 Nature Conservation Strategy including the designation of 12 Local Nature Reserves in Cambridge to give important habitats greater protection.
It will also support and complement a number of other local and regional initiatives, including the proposed Cambridge Nature Network, the University of Cambridge’s Biodiversity Action Plan and Natural Cambridgeshire’s Doubling Nature Vision while meeting legal obligations and policies which have been introduced since the adoption of the previous strategy.
A 12-week public consultation on the proposals will start on July 23 with a survey available for residents. Visit cambridge.gov.uk/consultations or by request a printed copy by phoning 01223 457000.