Wednesday 6th April 2016 - Sir David Attenborough opens global hub for nature conservation
The Conservation Research Institute offers an unparalleled opportunity to establish a globally influential programme of research on biodiversity conservation and its impacts. Dr Bhaskar Vira, Director, UCCRI
Finding solutions to some of the many challenges facing the natural world has come a step closer today, with the opening of a new global conservation hub in Cambridge, UK. 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 and university researchers in the world.
The campus has been opened officially by Sir David Attenborough, after whom the building housing the campus has been named. Sir David 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.
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.”
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.