New centre for biodiversity conservation named after Sir David Attenborough

An iconic building in the centre of Cambridge is, today, being named the David Attenborough Building, in honour of Sir David’s pioneering work in bringing the wonders of our natural world to our screens. The David Attenborough Building will become a focal point for global research and practice on the complexities of conserving biodiversity.

Currently undergoing refurbishment, the David Attenborough Building is located in the heart of the city, on the University of Cambridge’s New Museums Site. Once completed, it will provide a vibrant hub for the partners in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), a unique collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the Cambridge-based cluster of leading conservation organisations (including Fauna & Flora International [FFI]), and the Museum of Zoology.

Sir David Attenborough at the Museum of Zoology. Credit: The Museum of Zoology/CCI.

Sir David Attenborough takes a tour of the building, which is currently under refurbishment. Credit: The Museum of Zoology/CCI.

The David Attenborough Building has been designed to foster collaboration between CCI partners, in the hope of enhancing our ability to solve today’s most pressing environmental challenges and respond at the scale needed to make a real difference. When completed, the building will house over 500 academics, practitioners and students from across the CCI partnership.

“Sir David Attenborough has done more than most to increase awareness of the beauty and importance of the natural world. That our Cambridge home will bear his name will enhance the inspiration that our vice-president brings to our staff and their work around the world,” said FFI Deputy Chief Executive Rosalind Aveling.

“Already the CCI is increasing opportunities for collaboration for our staff and partners in many different countries. Several students working with FFI have graduated from the MPhil in Conservation Leadership at the University, while initiatives such as the Capacity for Conservation website have arisen thanks to collaboration and funding fostered through CCI. Conservation in many regions of the world is already feeling the benefit of this investment.”

Learning from the past to inform the future

In addition to the collaborative space, the lower floors of the building will house the University of Cambridge’s Museum of Zoology, which is undergoing major refurbishment to create new displays that will inspire visitors with the wonders of animal diversity.

The Museum’s collections include many significant specimens that have been instrumental in furthering scientific knowledge (such as Darwin’s finches), as well as a number of examples of extinct species such as the iconic dodo.

As Professor Paul Brakefield, Director of the Museum of Zoology, explained, “The refurbishment of the Museum of Zoology will allow many new audiences to discover these wonders for themselves, as well as maintaining the Museum’s key role in University teaching.”

Refurbishment work on the David Attenborough Building is due to be completed at the end of 2015, and the Museum of Zoology is scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2016.

Main image courtesy of The Museum of Zoology/CCI.