The Cambridge World Wildlife Study Centre (CWWSC) was registered as a Cambridge University Society in 1971.  At that time concern about environmental issues and conservation was growing rapidly.  Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, had had a profound impact on many.  CWWSC started as a group of its time.  It has now transformed to an informal group of people committed to the original aim of ‘active conservation’.


By the early 1970s in Great Britain, which followed years of rationing and deprivation during and after the Second World War and then the focus on personal gratification and live-now-pay-later excesses of the 1960s, there was a new, responsible feeling among the emerging generation that attention had to be paid to some of the huge issues which had passed little noticed during the roller-coaster experiences of the previous few decades.  Such issues included  the need to counter global domination philosophies (the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact was probably the most significant, but there were many others, such as North Korea, communism in French Indo-China, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia), starvation, disease epidemics, refugees, the North-South divide, environmental abuse and the extinction of species.

As a result of the wars of the first half of the 20th Century, considerable investment was being made in defence and in international security.  However, there were insufficient government resources to address many of the other problems facing the global community.  Many young adults, emerging from what could be judged at the time by their parents as a sheltered and privileged education, fostered a growing sense of frustration about the prevailing nature of things.

The last years of the 1960s and the first years of the 1970s were characterised by many instances of that frustration being manifested in what are probably best described as extremist or destructive movements and actions, such as the Bader Meinhoff group, Red Help, the student riots in Paris, a vast number of demonstrations (both peaceful and violent) and behaviour designed to shock and intended to bring about step change.

During the early years of the 1970s, among British students, there was a significant shift away from anger and violence, which had demonstrably failed to deliver.  Instead there was a more serious focus on seeking to achieve something better than had been managed by previous generations.  More constructive personal standards and attitudes prevailed.  While at Cambridge academic virtuosity continued as the main pursuit, there was a desire to contribute to the community, and in particular, the global community.

Much had change in the previous couple of decades.  In the 1970s, television was widespread in Great Britain - compelling images from all over the world were available in peoples’ homes.  Travel had also become altogether more available, safe and affordable.  It was not only possible to understand what was happening on a global scale, it was possible to go there and do something about it.

CWWSC - A Group of its Time

It was in this climate that CWWSC was formed.  A huge number of humanitarian charitable and other supportive organisations had sprung up and were operating with varying degrees of efficiency in aid of the human condition.  But there were few opportunities for British students to engage in active wildlife and wild habitat conservation measures.  In the UK, organisations such as the RSPB had established programmes which were well supported, but they were always seeking more resources for their own programmes.  They appeared to have difficulty in understanding why students wished to contribute to conservation causes overseas.

The World Wildlife Fund (as it was then) was well underway, with British Royal patronage, but it was principally a fund-raising body.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN, an UN-sponsored body based in Switzerland) published Red Data Book volumes listing endangered species, but there was no visible entry route for active student participation.  Similarly, the excellent Fauna and Flora Preservation Society (as it was then) was undertaking superb, timely and essential work in the right areas, but it was not easily accessible to students - hence CWWSC.

New Scope and Status

CWWSC was formed to provide a route for interested students to contribute to the cause of global conservation through voluntary project work in their own time and without pay.  The scope has now evolved to include not only students but also concerned individuals at any stage of life who wish to contribute voluntarily.  Projects are selected in accordance with the recognised conservation requirements and with respect to the available resources and capabilites.  

CWWSC’s status as a registered Cambridge University Society lapsed many years ago.  CWWSC is now an independent not-for-profit activity, sponsored and supported by Adfingo, a division of Veitch Moir Ltd (www.veitchmoir.com).   Please see the Contact Us page on this site.

The key differentiator from many other organisations which now work the same sector is that there are no standing overheads for CWWSC.  It is strictly project based - when there is no project there is no spend.  And when there is a project, people give their time for free.  CWWSC is a route for the efficient delivery of ACTIVE CONSERVATION.


© Dewar Donnithorne-Tait 2015