22 July 2021
Cambridge City Council will be launching a public consultation on its new 2021-2030 Draft Biodiversity Strategy on 23rd July.
Hannah Copley, Cambridge Green Party councillor and the Environment and Community Spokesperson for the Green & Independent Group says, “We are delighted to see the council offering an updated approach to improving the city’s biodiversity. This is sorely needed in a city that is seeing ongoing biodiversity decline, in a county and country that are both hugely nature depleted. We have seen during the pandemic the huge value of access to nature and green spaces for people’s physical and mental health. We need the outcome of the consultation to be a set of concrete and specific action points that will rapidly reverse the destruction of nature in and around the city.”
The Council’s 2006 Nature Conservation Strategy achieved many of its aims, but we urgently need a new strategy that meets current legislation and policy requirements, and addresses the biodiversity emergency. The new draft is based on the recognised need for “measurable biodiversity net gain”, and reflects the Cambridge Nature Network plan prepared by the local Wildlife Trust and Cambridge Past Present and Future, and wider initiatives such as the Wicken Fen Vision and Fen Biosphere project.
The draft strategy is based on a recent city wildlife audit, and seeks to improve the Cam and its associated chalk streams, wetlands, trees, grasslands, hedgerows and the urban environment. There are three core themes: (1) embedding biodiversity across all Council services; (2) enhancing Council-managed local wildlife reserves and green spaces; and (3) “Nature in your Neighbourhood”, or working with communities to improve nature locally. The Green Party strongly supports the continuation of the Canopy Project which aims to increase tree cover, the implementation of the Council’s decision on a major reduction in pesticide-use, and the creation of more wildflower meadows and verges, but there need to be more measurable targets.
The Draft Strategy is ambitious. Its implementation will require the support of voluntary groups (e.g. Friends of Logan’s Meadow) and the activation of the wealth of knowledge and expertise on conservation available in the city. But, if water over-abstraction and runaway development are not also fully addressed, the strategy will remain a pipe dream. The Green Party would like assurance that existing and proposed budgets are ring-fenced, that there is sufficient funding for the number of Council officers required for implementation of the strategy, and that the fundamental issues that cause biodiversity decline are taken fully into account.
We urge everyone who enjoys the city’s green spaces and wildlife areas to read and send in comments. The consultation will be open for 12 weeks, and will be available at https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/consultations.