The Cotswolds Ecological Networks Forum

The Forum is an informal group which has been working to deliver nature conservation at a landscape scale across the Cotswolds AONB since May 2010. It currently has 60 members representing 33 organisations including local authorities, community organisations, landowners, the private sector and conservation organisations.

Following publication of the report; ‘Making Space for Nature’ by Sir John Lawton in September 2010 the Forum adopted the language of the report and developed two Nature Improvement Areas. It has gone on to bring practitioners together, working across boundaries to common management principles and assisted in the development of new projects.


The Forum exists to achieve and sustain coherent and robust ecological networks across the Cotswolds.


In pursuit of this purpose, the Forum;

  • Developed and delivers the Cotswolds’ Nature Improvement Areas.
    • Identifying and coordinating existing activity.
    • Identifying and strategically filling gaps in activity through project development.
  • Encouraging and realising opportunities to increase habitat connectivity both within the Nature Improvement Areas and across the wider landscape.
  • Identifying and developing new ways of sustaining activity.
  • Communicating the following key messages.

Key Messages

  • Wildlife needs to adapt to climate change through utilising large sites and permeable landscapes. Achieving this requires coherent and robust ecological networks.
  • Coherent and robust ecological networks are an essential element of a fully functioning ecosystem and so are important in maintaining ecosystem services.
  • The current fragmented nature of the Cotswolds’ ecological networks means that they are not fit for purpose in terms of enabling our wildlife to adapt to climate change and in maintaining ecosystem services.
  • The way to create coherent and robust ecological networks is to make habitats better, bigger, more and joined as outlined in ‘Making Space for Nature (2010)’.
  • Within the Cotswolds, the best opportunities for making coherent and robust ecological networks mostly fall along the scarp and river valleys Nature Improvement Areas.
  • Achieving and sustaining coherent and robust ecological networks will require new mechanisms, partnerships and ways of working with new audiences.



Identifying and coordinating existing activity

  • Identification of two Nature Improvement Areas.
  • Promotion of the Nature Improvement Areas for adoption in local plans and by Local Nature Partnerships.
  • Development of a set of Habitat Management Principles for all practitioners to sign up to.
  • Development of a summary of who is doing what to achieve and sustain coherent and robust ecological networks across the Cotswolds.

Identifying and strategically filling gaps in activity through project development

  • The Forum was instrumental in the Cotswolds Conservation Board securing a local project through the national Save our Magnificent Meadows Heritage Lottery Fund funded project. Launched in June 2014 this 3 year project will engage communities and encourage and support land owners and managers in restoring wildflower grasslands.

Joining the Forum and further information

The only requirement for membership is that the member shares the Forum’s purpose and objectives. Please read the Forum’s Terms of Reference before asking to join.

For membership and all other enquiries please e-mail Simon Smith at


Cotswolds Ecological Networks Forum Terms of Reference (PDF 100KB)

Cotswolds Nature Improvement Areas Summary (PDF 600KB)

Cotswolds Nature Improvement Areas Map (PDF 4MB)

CENF’s Habitat Management Principals (Draft) (PDF 169KB)

CENF’s Guide to Who is Doing What (due to be published shortly)

Making Space for Nature: A review of England’s Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network. Professor Sir John Lawton CBE FRS September 2010 (PDF 1MB)