Nature recovery

Reversing the decline in nature

We are living through a massive decline in global biodiversity loss. Biodiversity is the name we give to the variety of all life on Earth. Bacteria to baboons, plants to people; the range of life on our planet is incredible.

Since 1970, the globe has seen a 69% decline in wildlife populations. One million species are now threatened with extinction.

Here in the UK, 56% of species are in decline, and 15% threatened with extinction. In fact, the UK is in the lowest 12% of all global countries for 'biodiversity intactness'. 

In Cambridgeshire, including East Cambridgeshire, the natural environment has struggled to cope with decades of intensive farming, forest and wetland clearance and widespread pesticide use. Despite pockets of international importance, Cambridgeshire has one of the lowest levels of land designated for nature in the country.

We need to reverse this decline in nature, and East Cambridgeshire District Council is determined to help make that happen.

Why does it matter?

Biodiversity matters. At its simplest, biodiversity is about life on Earth - different species and the varying landscapes, regions and habitats in which they exist.

Biodiversity provides food, water and shelter; influences climate; controls disease; and regulates nutrient and water cycles. Biodiversity is integral to spiritual, cultural, psychological and artistic well-being. Humans are embedded in the natural world, and so are a part of biodiversity.

We have to look after our natural world and all its biodiversity much better than we have been doing, and aim to leave it to our children in a better state than we inherited it. 

Nature recovery in East Cambridgeshire

To start our long term ambition to boost the natural environment, we have launched an East Cambridgeshire Nature Recovery Network (PDF) document, which identifies nine Priority Areas in the district for landscape-scale action to support nature's recovery. This sets the framework for large scale action in the district.

We are also serious about implementing new Biodiversity Net Gain powers through the planning system, making sure developers provide more biodiversity after they have completed their development, than was the case before development took place.

We are also supporting farmers and landowners, who may be interested in managing their land in a more nature positive way. 

Nature recovery across Cambridgeshire

East Cambridgeshire District Council fully supports the Doubling Nature ambitions of Natural Cambridgeshire, a vision which seeks to double the area of rich wildlife habitat and natural green space across Cambridgeshire.

We also support the concept of a Local Nature Recovery Strategy for Cambridgeshire to Peterborough, which is just getting underway from Spring 2023. It is being prepared by a variety of partners, including this council. We will update this page when details start to emerge.

What is East Cambridgeshire District Council doing itself?

As well as putting in place plans and strategies to set a framework for nature recovery, and making sure developers do their bit via new development, we are also committed to looking after our own land in an environmentally friendly way. 

For example, our parks and open spaces pages explain how we are cutting our grass differently for the benefit of wildflowers and wildlife, how we are managing drainage ditches responsibly, and how we are looking after closed churchyards for the benefit of wildlife. 

Our duty to help conserve and enhance biodiversity

Most public bodies, such as East Cambridgeshire District Council, are under a new legal duty (external link) to help conserve and enhance biodiversity. As a first step in that process we published a report (PDF) in January 2024 setting out the possible ways we, as a council, can help take action to help nature recover. Our next step is to take the possible opportunities identified in that report and turn them into actions we are committed to taking.