All posts by Monica Frisch

The archives of CNHS

On Wednesday 11th May, the Society for the History of Natural History are holding an online meeting: Pioneer Naturalists: Champions of Conservation and Environmental Engagement The afternoon event consists of seven talks, one of which is The Archives of the Cambridge Natural History Society.

Some of the early minute books in the CNHS archives.

In her presentation, Monica Frisch will talk about the CNHS archives, which date back to the Society’s formation, as Cambridge Entomological Society in 1857. These contain a wealth of information about the Society, its history, its activities and the many naturalists who were involved with it. Many were pioneers in their fields and many were prominent naturalists.

See the SHNH programme for details of the other talks and how to register, which is free.

In-person talk 31st March

The final CNHS talk of the term is in person on Thursday evening, 31st March and takes place in the Department of Geography‘s lecture theatre, at 7:00 p.m. Note earlier start time. Please arrive punctually.

The title is Truffles in a warming worldUlf Büntgen from the Department of Geography will discuss how climate change affects one of the most exclusive gourmet foods, and how Cambridge University Botanic Garden can contribute to a better understanding of the ecological requirements that are needed for the formation and maturation of truffle fruit bodies. 

This is a joint meeting with the Department of Geography as part of the Cambridge Festival and will be held in the Department of Geography’s lecture theatre. There will be no admission charge. 


Fragile Planet – Watercolour Journeys into Wild Places

15 Feb 2022 – 14 Apr 2022

The Robert Cripps Gallery, Magdalene College New Library.

10:00 – 12:00 and 14:00 – 16:00 on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Closed Friday. Last admission is 11:30 and 15:30 respectively. NB: The exhibition will close at 12 noon on 14 April 2022.

Fragile Planet is a major exhibition of watercolours by Cornwall’s world-renowned wilderness artist, Tony Foster.

A stark picture of the environmental risks now being faced around the world, Fragile Planet – Watercolour Journeys into Wild Places, highlights the precariousness of the world’s wildernesses and endangered environments, many of which Tony has visited and painted over the past 30 years. Sadly, some no longer exist, while others have been dramatically altered by the twin perils of climate change and human intervention.

More details

MIGRATION, an all-site exhibition by artist printmaker Julian Meredith

Monday 7 March to Tuesday 24 May 2022

Monday to Thursday 10am – 3pm. Admission free.

Julian Meredith is an artist printmaker and beekeeper. His art rails against the loss of habitat and the extinction of familiar creatures. His subject matter is fish, birds, animals and insects, their relationship to their environment and to us. The title of this exhibition – MIGRATION – represents a natural phenomena which is an endless source of fascination for Meredith. But it is also a timely warning of the consequences of  climate change which could lead to the greatest waves of global migration and remapping of populations that the world has ever seen. 

More details

CNHS talks in March

There are four online talks in the March programme. All start at 7:30 p.m. and last about an hour. Members will be emailed the Zoom link and login details nearer the time. To be added the mailing list for events: email webmaster [at] To become a member: see details here.

Thursday 3 March Lower Wood Duncan Mackay, voluntary warden for this Wildlife Trust reserve to the south-east of Cambridge, will talk about the habitats in this fragment of ancient woodland, its fauna and flora and its management.

Lower Wood © Duncan Mackay

Thursday 10 March Measuring and monitoring surface melting
on an Antarctic ice shelf
Rebecca Dell, a glaciologist at the Scott Polar Institute who has recently returned from a trip to Antarctica, will talk about her visit and her experience of working there and her research on ice shelf (in)stability.

Photo © Rebecca Dell

Thursday 17 March How many butterflies are there in the Western Palaearctic? Martin Davies will talk about his lifelong obsession with butterflies. From his first butterfly book to the wonderful handbooks available today, the beauty and diversity of butterfly species has never ceased to amaze him. We may think we know how many butterfly species there are in Europe but how has our understanding of this improved over the years? Lots of wonderful places and species are featured in this wide-ranging detective story, from the Atlantic to theAltai and the Arctic to the Atlas.

Hakkari Emperor Euapatura mirza. Hakkari Valley, Van, SE Turkey. A Western Palaearctic endemic butterfly species. © Martin Davies

Thursday 24 March Fenland flora Owen Mountford has been studying the flora of the Fenland region for over fifty years and will provide an overview of the Fenland Flora project, in which Jonathan Graham and he have been surveying the entire Fenland since about 2005. The project is now reaching completion, and this talk will outline the results, drawing especially on the findings from Cambridgeshire.

Nene Washes looking towards St Marys Church Photo © Jonathan Graham


Thursday 24th February 2022

Our next talk will be given by Brian Eversham, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire

In the talk, which will start punctually at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday 24th February, Brian will start with the battle to save Britain’s largest lowland peatbogs, Thorne and Hatfield Moors. He will cover the range of peatland wildlife, from birds to insects to flowers to fungi, their habitats, and the progress in restoring peatlands across Britain in the last 20 years.

Thorne Moors bog pool (with cottongrass) © Brian Eversham

The talk will be ONLINE via Zoom.

Members will be emailed login details nearer the time.

To be added the mailing list for events: email webmaster [at] To become a member: see details on the website membership page.

Insect photography

Thursday 10th February 2022

Ann Miles, who trained as a biologist, will talk about photographing insects, a lifelong passion. She will demonstrate their beauty, their sometimes bizarre appearances and their fascinating behaviours.

White Dead Nettle beetles (c) Ann Miles

ONLINE via Zoom. Members will be emailed login details nearer the time. To be added the mailing list for events: email webmaster [at] To become a member: see details on the website membership page.


The Cambridge Natural History Society programme of talks starts on Thursday 27th January, at 7:30 p.m.

Jonathan Shanklin, astronomer, meteorologist, naturalist and past president of Cambridge Natural History Society, will offer a choice of talks. The audience will choose at the start of the meeting. The options are

The Natural History of Comets” (pretty much what it says in the title, but with brief excursions into the ozone hole and climate change)

Marvel at the Moon” (a tour of some of the things seen in the night sky with simple equipment, bringing in some links with natural history, with a brief excursion again) OR

An astronomer in Antarctica” (mostly ozone hole and climate change, with a bit of natural history and atmospheric phenomena). 

The talk will be presented online via Zoom, and CNHS members and those on the mailing list have been sent the Zoom link, which is specific to this meeting.

You will join the meeting in a waiting room and will be let in at 7:30 p.m.  Your video and audio will be off when you join.  You will be able to use chat to ask questions at the end of the talk, or you can raise a virtual hand from “reactions”. 

The event will be recorded and Society members who cannot join the event on Thursday will then be sent a link to allow them to hear it at their leisure.  If you are not a member this is a good reason to join.  Details of how to join the Society are at

More on reforestation

Following April Bagwill’s talk about the Trillion Trees project I had a look at their website, which has lots of information. You can download their Impact Report 2016-2020 which says “Since 2016, Trillion Trees partners have been supporting the protection of more than 18.3 billion trees, and the restoration of over 1.8 billion.” This shows all of the countries where the three partners are working in forests, but the website only shows a select few that the partners want to focus on for fundraising in the next year.

April has also provided links to some more resources:

Report and interactive map on the Deforestation Fronts

Other interesting forest maps on their website.

For successful restoration of natural forests Trillion Trees recommends organisations follow the IUCN’s principles for Forest Landscape Restoration, or similarly the 10 Golden Rules of Forest Restoration.

She notes that what Trillion Trees find is that many tree-planting organisations are just concerned with getting trees in the ground, but might not make sure they survive to grow to have biodiversity and climate impacts they claim. They will be publishing an online tool in January to help people/investors decide which tree planting and forest restoration bodies to support. April describes this as a “sort of a walk-through scoring tool to provide questions to ask of an organisation or to consider to determine if their projects are just about getting trees in the ground, or if they are trying to improve biodiversity, climate and social opportunities in the long term”. Sounds useful, given how many organisations are happy to plant trees if you pay them.

25th November NatHistFest

The 2nd Online NatHistFest will be opened on Thursday 25th November 2021 at 7:30 p.m. with talks from some of the exhibitors. These will include:

  • Matt Hayes, University Museum of Zoology, “Butterflies Through Time: engaging audiences with wildlife of the past
  • Chantel Carr, Froglife  “The Importance of educating young people on herpetology
  • Steve Allain, Cambridge & Peterborough Amphibian and Reptile Group “A county atlas for amphibians and reptiles

The event will be by Zoom. Members and those on the CNHS mailing list will be sent the link for the meeting. To be added the mailing list, email webmaster [at] . To become a member, which brings further benefits, see our membership page.

The 2nd online NatHistFest replaces our usual Conversazione, which it was not possible to hold in the spring. It includes exhibits from CNHS members and local organisations on a wide range of topics.

The 17 exhibits from the 2020 online NatHistFest can still be viewed here.

Iberian Lynx

If you enjoyed Harriet Allen’s talk on “Restoring habitat for the Iberian lynx“, or if you missed it and would like some information about Iberian lynx, you might find the following article informative.

Conservation actions see Iberian lynx claw back from brink of extinction

I found it while browsing online and it is quite recent (March 2021) but Harriet thinks it’s well worth adding to our website for anyone who wants to read more. The article says that in the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) the wild population today is around 1,000 animals, compared with just 94 in 2002. Harriet says that she is hopeful that the project to ‘re-wild’ the Iberian lynx will continue to be a success, which is very encouraging.