Restoring landscapes at scale: new Restoration Landscape grantees convene in Cambridge

Posted: 25th August 2022

Earlier this summer, the new cohort of ELP Restoration Landscape grantees were brought to Cambridge for a week-long workshop. The purpose was two-fold; to help grantees to build relationships with one another, the Endangered Landscapes Programme team, and professionals across the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, and to further develop their project plans through peer-to-peer learning and facilitated sessions. 17 participants made the journey from across Europe to gather at the David Attenborough Building in central Cambridge, with another two participants joining virtually. 

Cambridge Conservation Initiative 

The week-long workshop was facilitated by Fauna and Flora International (FFI), a partner organisation of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) – which manages the Endangered Landscapes Programme. CCI is a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and nine leading conservation organisations, which are united under the principles of cooperation and joint action, to foster an environment of continual growth and learning. Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, chose to place the Endangered Landscapes Programme within the care and leadership of CCI because of the wealth of knowledge it represents, and its dedication to capacity building within the wider conservation community. As such, this workshop was an opportunity to not only welcome the new grantees to the Endangered Landscapes Programme, but also to the extended network of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. 

A group of people stand smiling on the stairs in front of a brutalist style building.

The workshop was run from The David Attenborough Building which is the campus of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, a collaboration which manages the Endangered Landscapes Programme (ELP). Photo: ELP.

FFI is a founding member of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and has worked closely with the Endangered Landscapes Programme for a number of years. FFI facilitated the first grantee workshop  in 2018 for the initial cohort of Restoration Landscape Projects, and has been through the same process as the new cohort of projects as lead partner on the Gökova Bay to Cape Gelidonya – scaled up in 2018 thanks to ELP funding. In addition, FFI have contributed to ELP-funded Advancing and Applying Knowledge Projects, including ‘Mapping Funding for Restoration in Europe and ‘Building Capacity in Nature-Based Enterprise Development.  

A group of two men and one woman sit at a table in a seminar room whilst a woman stands up.

The week provided a chance for grantees to reflect on their project plans as they enter the final stage of grant approval. Photo: Georgina Mayhew, ELP.

Working at Scale 

All of the new projects are working at landscape or seascape scale and are highly complex, so the workshop gave participants an opportunity to reflect on the challenges surrounding their projects and share their own substantial expertise. They were invited to consider ecological challenges, for example during the excellent talk on Connectivity by Humphery Crick from Natural England, who presented research on the effect of corridors and stepping-stones on species distribution. The social challenges of restoration were a particular focus of the week with an illuminating discussion on Monday led by Sian Stacey about the use of co-design in the Summit to Sea project in Mid-Wales. Cultural engagement was explored through a practical art session on Thursday led by Antony Lyons, the Artist in Residence for the Greater Côa Valley project. 

A group of 3 women stand working on a poster on a table.

Grantees using objects that are from or represent their project landscapes to bring their landscapes to life. Photo: FFI.

An interactive (and entertaining!) role play session set in a fictional restoration landscape allowed participants to put themselves into the shoes of various stakeholders and consider the challenge of resolving conflicting perspectives. Economic challenges and opportunities were explored towards the end of the week, with sessions on ‘nature-positive enterprises’ led by Nicole Hedwig of the Cambridge Judge Business School, and Kiran Mohanan from FFI’s Enterprise and Finance team. The sessions closed with a memorable in-house version of Dragon’s Den, with grantees pitching their ideas to a panel of judges. 

Importance of Monitoring 

Scientific evidence is a core component of the Endangered Landscapes Programme, and Tuesday’s intensive programming especially reflected this with presentations and discussions from specialists from a broad range of organisations including UNEP-WCMC, RSPB, University of Cambridge, BTO, and NatureMetrics, as well as Fauna & Flora International and the Endangered Landscapes Programme. This theme continued into Wednesday’s field trip to the local Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, where participants learned how the National Trust measures ecosystem services and were invited to reflect on how they could monitor ecosystem services in their own land and seascapes.

A group of men and women facing away from the camera dressed in outdoor gear in a field on a cloudy day. One woman is using binoculars.

Being hosted by National Trust at Wicken Fen. Photo: Georgina Mayhew, ELP.

In Practice 

A key element of the workshop was the exchange of knowledge gained from practical experience in the field. As well as seeing first-hand the experience at Wicken Fen, participants were able to learn from one another (particularly as some were previous recipients of an ELP Planning Project Grant), as well as hearing from existing Restoration Landscape Projects, who gave their ‘top tips’ from the lessons they have learned over the last few years of project implementation. 

A group of ponies stand in a marshy landscape with long green grass.

Attendees were able to learn about restoration work taking place at the National Trust’s Wicken Fen, such as the introduction of konik ponies. Photo: David Thomas, ELP.


We were also privileged to be able to hear from the Oversight and Selection Panel member and marine expert Dr Tundi Agardy, who delivered a keynote address about ‘Successful Seascapes’, the importance of community, and the need to think big. Tundi also humanised the governance and selection procedures of the Endangered Landscapes Programme, discussing the new projects with each of the grantees and participating in various sessions of the workshop. 

You can watch Tundi’s lecture in full below: 

Looking forward 

By the end of the workshop participants reflected that they felt inspired to make their projects a success and to be part of a ‘bigger’ movement as restoration continues to grow in prominence. They recognised the key role their projects have to play in addressing both the ecological and climate crises and felt proud to be part of the ELP and the wider restoration community. 

Since the workshop, the projects have been busy finalising their documentation so that they can make a start in October. We are very excited to see what these amazing projects will achieve and look forward to sharing their progress in the months and years to come.

To find out more about these projects, please visit the Restoration Landscapes main project page and sign up for updates via our News page.

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