Protecting Cambridge Landscapes and green spaces Cambridge Nature Network Since we were founded in 1928, we have worked hard to protect the most important landscapes in and around Cambridge. We are currently focused on three high quality landscape areas where we are working to re-connect landscapes for people and nature and we are working with other organisations on a further two: Gog Magog Hills Landscape (shown in green on map image) In the 1950s we ran a successful "Save the Gogs" campaign to prevent development on the chalk hills to the south of Cambridge. As a result, we purchased the Wandlebury Estate, which after a decade of hard work, was opened to the public as the first country park for Cambridge. We created habitats for wildlife and paths and open spaces for people. Managing this 60 ha site for nature, people and heritage is a considerable undertaking for us and there is still much that we would like to do. However our vision is increasingly beyond our land holdings. There are other similar assets in a swathe of countryside which, starting in the east, takes in Cherry Hinton Chalk Pits (Wildlife Trust), Beechwoods Nature Reserve (County Council/Wildlife Trust), Roman Road and Fleam Dyke, Gog Magog Golf Course SSSI, Wandlbury Country Park, Magog Downs (Magog Trust) and Nine Wells Nature Reserve (City Council). We would like to see these sites managed on a more collaborative basis and to try to expand and link them to create a more landscape scale green infrastructure for people and nature. This could include using farm subsidies to create connecting habitats across farmland for example. West Cambridge Landscape: Quarter-to-Six-Quadrant (shown in orange on map image) In the 1930s we purchased land around Coton village and Madingley Hill on the western side of Cambridge to prevent this attractive landscape from being developed. We still own much of this or have covenants over land which we previously owned. In the 2000s we began a long-term project to transform some of our agricultural land into "Coton Countryside Reserve". We have taken some land out of agriculture to create habitats for wildlife and open spaces for people. We have planted trees, hedges and orchards and are creating meadows. The farmland on the reserve is part of a High Level Countryside Stewardship programme. We have created and manage miles of permissive paths and a surfaced spine route that can be used by bicycles and wheelchairs. We provide car parking, information and bins. We are still working towards our long-term vision to create an informal countryside reserve that is a haven for wildlife and serves the people of west Cambridge and surrounding villages. There is still much that we would like to do at the reserve, however our vision is increasingly beyond our land holdings. There are other similar minded landowners in a swathe of countryside which, starting in the north, takes in Madingley Estate, Madingley Wood SSSI and the American Cemetery, Coton Countryside Reserve, Burwash Manor and organic farm, Lark Rise Farm (Countryside Restoration Trust), Grantchester Meadows and the recently created Trumpington Meadows (Wildlife Trust). We would like to see these sites managed on a more collaborative basis to create a more landscape scale green infrastructure for people and nature. This could include using farm subsidies to create connecting habitats across farmland for example. This vision has been proposed as part of the Quarter-to-Six-Quadrant initiative and included in the latest Local Plan. Cam Valley Landscape (shown in blue on map image) The River Cam valley is one of the most important landscapes in the Cambridge area, especially the commons and college backs in the city itself. In the 1930s/40s we prevented a ring road being built through Grantchester Meadows and we purchased some land there (Skaters Meadow, which we lease to the Wildlife Trust) and we persuaded other landowners to covenant their land to prevent future development. Since that time we have done what we can to try and protect the landscape of the Cam valley in and around Cambridge. We also own Barnwell Meadows and Hinxton Watermill, both in the valley. We are members of the Cam Valley Forum and the CAMEO River Catchment Partnership. Cambridge Fens Landscape (shown in yellow on map image) The area of fenland on the northeastern side of Cambridge is particularly important for nature. This includes Fulbourn Fen (Wildlife Trust), Little Wilbraham Fen, Wilbraham Common and the Wicken Fen Vision (National Trust). We do not have any landholdings in this area and this landscape vision is being led by others, but we will support this in whatever way we are able. Opportunity Mapping Project for a Cambridge Nature Network In November 2019 we started a project to provide evidence for the important landscape areas around Cambridge and to identify future opportunities for habitat creation and public enjoyment. We are submitting this work as evidence for the emerging Local Plan for Greater Cambridge and we will also use it as the basis for working positively with land owners, agencies and funders in order to benefit the Cambridge area. The project will use existing data as well as in-the-field ground-truthing and will involve discussions with landowners to identify what may be possible (for example using farm subsidies to create connecting habitats across farmland). CambridgePPF is managing this project and working in partnership with Wildlife Trust BCN who are carrying out most of the mapping work. We are grateful to the Gatsby charitable foundation for supporting this work. The first phase of this long term project will be completed in March 2021. Click here for an interim report.