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University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute

Promoting collaborative research on biodiversity conservation and its impacts

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New hub for biodiversity conservation named after Sir David Attenborough

by Alison Harvey last modified Jan 28, 2016 06:10 PM

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credit: Nicholas Hare Architects

An iconic building in the centre of Cambridge has been 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 research and practice to transform our understanding and the conservation of 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, and the Museum of Zoology.

The CCI space has been designed to provide collaborative facilities to foster innovation, generate solutions to conservation challenges and create an ideas-rich environment to inspire future generations. It will house over 500 professionals – over 100 academics, researchers and students from the University (who are part of the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute) and staff from its CCI partner organisations.

“Sir David Attenborough’s work, introducing and enthusing millions of people to the beauty, fragility and our scientific understanding of the natural world, makes the naming of this building in his honour particularly significant,” said Dr Mike Rands, Executive Director of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. “The David Attenborough Building will act as a collaborative hub for the conservation community within Cambridge and beyond. Creating a collaborative and dynamic space in which experts from academia, practice and policy can interact and work together on a daily basis will help shape the future of life on Earth and the relationship between people and the natural environment on which we depend for our own wellbeing and survival.”

According to Dr Bhaskar Vira, Director of UCCRI, “It is rare to find University spaces which allow collaboration across disciplines and Departments, and the David Attenborough Building offers unparalleled opportunities for UCCRI. The Campus allows academics to retain their Departmental affiliations and linkages whilst being co-located with the world’s largest cluster of conservation organisations – this will allow the University to extend the impact of its research and teaching, as well as provide access to exceptional information, networks and experience in the wider CCI community.”

The collaborative space of the Conservation Campus is complemented by the presence of the University of Cambridge’s Museum of Zoology in the lower floors of the building. As part of this project, the Museum of Zoology is undergoing major refurbishment to create new displays to inspire and engage audiences with the wonders of animal diversity, and new stores to preserve its outstanding collections for the future. 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 organisms such as the iconic dodo. As Professor Paul Brakefield, Director of the Museum of Zoology, comments "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. A series of events are being planned to mark the opening of the building, which will give members of the public the chance to view the building and to learn more about the innovative work that will be taking place under its roof.

Further information about the building

 

See more reports:

Cambridge Conservation Initiative

Nicholas Hare Architects

University of Cambridge News

Cambridge Evening News

 

Cambridge Conservation Initiative: The Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) exists to deliver transformational approaches to understanding and conserving biodiversity and the wealth of natural capital it represents. It aims to do so through strategic collaborations between its partners and others. By joining together in strategic collaborations CCI’s partners are able to tackle new and existing issues with innovative approaches, and across disciplines, in ways that cannot be achieved by any one partner alone. The CCI partners are: BirdLife International, British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the Cambridge Conservation Forum, Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), TRAFFIC, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Tropical Biology Association, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the University of Cambridge.

The Museum of Zoology: The Museum of Zoology has long been recognised internationally for its extraordinarily rich and important holdings, coupled with its excellence in research and teaching. The Museum is currently undergoing major renovation in order to fully realise the potential of the priceless collections, enable it to host higher visitor numbers, and provide an exciting modern environment for lifelong learning, teaching, research and preservation of the collections. It will reopen in late 2016 to coincide with its 150th anniversary.

With extensive material covering the diversity of animal life collected from 1814 onwards, in 1998 the Museum’s collections were designated of outstanding historical and international significance by the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Currently comprising four million specimens including 30,000 bird skins, 10,000 sets of eggs and over 3,500 fossil vertebrates, the Museum holds numerous ‘type’ specimens – which act as the universal references for classifying and naming species – of the highest scientific importance.

David Attenborough: Sir David has many connections to Cambridge. He read Natural Sciences as an undergraduate student (Clare 1945), is a very good friend of the Museum and Department of Zoology, serves as a Vice-President or Patron for several CCI partners (including RSPB, Fauna & Flora International and BirdLife International). In April 2013 he launched the plans for the CCI Conservation Campus in the Senate House with the former Chancellor HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

 

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