Located in the David Attenborough Building, the new campus acts as a centre for the Cambridge conservation ‘cluster’ – the largest grouping of nature conservation organisations (including Fauna & Flora International) and university researchers in the world.

The campus will be opened officially by Sir David Attenborough, after whom the building housing the campus has been named. Sir David is a vice-president of Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and has links with many of the organisations based in the campus and is a graduate of the University of Cambridge. In preparation for the opening event, Sir David gained a unique ‘plant’s-eye-view’ of this special building a few weeks ago, abseiling down the 15 metre high living wall in the central atrium.

Sir David abseiled down the 15 metre high living wall. Credit: Sir Cam.

Sir David abseiled down the 15 metre high living wall. Credit: Sir Cam/University of Cambridge.

In Sir David’s words, “The future of our life on Earth is dependent on the natural world – for the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we use – and for the feelings we have of awe and wonder at nature’s extraordinary riches. In this remarkable age we are learning more and more about the intricacies of our dependence on nature. Yet our natural world is threatened as never before. The threats are both numerous and interrelated, and no one institution, however effective, can hope to address them all alone.”

“It is for this reason that the work of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative is so exceptional. By bringing together leaders in research, practice, policy and teaching, we stand the greatest chance of developing the solutions required to save our planet. I am enormously proud that these collaborations are occurring in a building bearing my name.”

Inside the David Attenborough Building, Credit: Toby Smith.

Inside the David Attenborough Building, Credit: Toby Smith/CCI.

The driving force behind the campus’s creation is the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), a strategic collaboration founded in 2007 between the University of Cambridge and nine biodiversity conservation organisations. The campus represents a step-change for the Initiative, as well as conservation more broadly, as Dr Mike Rands, Executive Director of CCI, says:

“The new campus provides a unique, collaborative space for integrating nature conservation research and practice, and developing conservation leaders. The campus makes the sharing of knowledge, networks and experiences between people and institutions much more effective. The excitement and energy within the building have been palpable since the moment the first occupants moved in; it offers an exceptional platform from which to transform the landscape of global biodiversity conservation.”

Over 500 conservation experts have moved into the campus, including 150 academics from seven departments from the University of Cambridge, and over 350 conservation practitioners from CCI’s conservation organisation partners. Over the coming years these individuals will be working together, using the campus as a hub, to develop effective solutions to the challenges faced by the natural world, such as developing new guidance on conservation issues for policy makers, seeking novel methods of communicating the importance of our natural world, and producing innovative ways of protecting species and habitats around the world.

The David Attenborough Building. Credit: Toby Smith.

The David Attenborough Building. Credit: Toby Smith/CCI.

One of the speakers at the opening is FFI’s Chief Executive Mark Rose who stresses:

“The ultimate impact of this collaboration will depend not just on the work of those who are in the building, but on the connections they have with people around the world. Forging relationships with business, governments and local organisations where the conservation dynamics will play out globally is what will lead to success for the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. Collaborations will be in many different countries, working with a range of threatened habitats and species, from the peat swamps of Indonesia to the arid steppes of Kazakstan via the fynbos flora of Southern Africa.”

To learn more of our Vice President Sir David Attenborough’s long-term work with FFI, watch him discussing conservation with our Chief Executive Mark Rose at the Royal Geographic Society.