Lapwing by Gillian Day
Cambridgeshire has around 470 recognised County Wildlife Sites (CWS). This network of valuable sites across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough comprises nearly 9,000 hectares of land and 183.5km of river
Habitat and locations
- Woodlands; such as the cluster of ancient woodlands on the heavy boulder clay soils to west of Cambridgeshire.
- Grasslands; including species rich meadows found particularly in west of the county and along river valleys, acid grasslands west of Peterborough and calcareous grassland on the Cambridgeshire chalk to the south of the county.
- Wetlands; including swamp/fen communities in Fenland and old gravel pits now providing a mosaic of wildlife habitats
- Roadside verges & green lanes; which act both as important habitats and wildlife corridors.
What the Wildlife Trust is doing in Cambridgeshire
57% of the sites were being well-managed for wildlife in 2011
The Wildlife Trust records all the County Wildlife Sites and aims to survey each every 5 to 10 years, allowing us to find out what wildlife is currently using the site and to understand how the site has been managed.
A key part of County Wildlife Site Officer’s role is to assist landowners in looking after their wildlife sites.
We offer free advice on the most wildlife friendly options for a site's management and information on the species to be found, as well as help and information on sources of funding for conservation-friendly management.
The Wildlife Trust’s Cambridgeshire Midweek Conservation Volunteer Team [anchor link to Cambridgeshire midweek volunteers on work parties page node/3426] work on a number of CWS. One of these is Caxton Moats CWS, a National Heritige listed earthwork where the team help to maintain the grassland through scrub clearance, raking up of hay cut and hand pulling of noxious weeds.
Cambridgeshire is part of the Cut & Chew project, which aims to better conserve our grasslands using traditional grazing. The website includes information on grassland management as well as a stock grazing network, to put landowners in touch with local graziers, and a directory of local contractors who can help with fencing or hay cuts.
A Wildlife Sites Partnership oversees and develops the system for identifying and conserving Wildlife Sites in Cambridgeshire, as well as selecting and de-selecting them. In Cambridgeshire the system is managed by the Wildlife Trust on behalf of the Partnership, which includes local authorities, statutory conservation agencies, local naturalists and landowners.
All CWS are chosen for their conservation value, assessed against publicly available county-based criteria. The aim is to select a comprehensive (rather than representative) set of locally important sites for wildlife. Sites qualify if they provide a good example of a habitat or support populations of indicator species above a certain threshold.
Ten new wildlife sites were designated and four were removed from the list during 2011. Removal is most often due to mismanagement or development of site for other purposes which has led to significant decline or destruction of the qualifying features.