Here's the list of Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) in England announced today by DEFRA.

  • Birmingham and the Black Country Living Landscape: includes urban, wetland, river and heath habitats.  It will create heathland on brownfield sites and 40 hectares of new native woodland;
  • Dark Peak: includes moorland and woodland in the Peak District National Park.  It will restore habitats such as upland heathland and create 210 hectares of native woodland;
  • Dearne Valley Green Heart: is mostly on farmland and former mining settlements with woodland and wetland.  It will restore the River Don floodplain and create new wetlands and woodlands
  • Greater Thames Marshes: includes agricultural marsh and urban habitats.  It will create and enhance grazing marsh, salt marsh and mudflat habitats;
  • Humberhead Levels: straddling Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, it is mainly wetland, lowland and peat habitats.  It will create or restore at least 1,427 hectares of wetland habitat;
  • Marlborough Downs: this is predominantly a farmer-led partnership looking to restore chalk and grassland habitats and increase the numbers of farmland birds as well as creating a network of traditional clay-lined dewponds to act as wildlife havens;
  • Meres and Mosses of the Marches: incorporates wetlands, peat bogs and ponds in Cheshire.  It will aim to reduce diffuse pollution by working with farmers, improve peatlands and restore wildlife areas around the River Perry;
  • Morecambe Bay Limestones and Wetlands: the most northerly NIA, this consists of limestone, wetland and grassland habitats.  It will restore coast and freshwater wetlands and create 200 hectares of woodland, planting 10,000 native trees and develop habitat for six species;
  • Nene Valley: within the River Nene regional park, this project will work with farmers to restore habitats and restore tributaries and reaches of the River Nene;
  • Northern Devon: this incorporates river, woodland and grassland.  The project will recreate and restore 1,000 hectares of priority habitat and restore the River Torridge so that it can support the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel;
  • South Downs Way Ahead: encompasses key chalk sites of the South Downs National Park.  The NIA will restore 1,000 hectares of chalk grassland and encourage the return of the Duke of Burgundy butterfly and several species of farmland birds;
  • Wild Purbeck: is a variety of river, wetland, heath and woodland habitat as well as the largest onshore oil field in Western Europe.  This NIA will introduce livestock to manage heathland , restore wetland and create or restore 15 ponds as well as creating 120 hectares of new woodland and a new seven hectare saline lagoon.

This list comes directly from the DEFRA announcement which you can read in full here.

Our Conservation Director, Martin Harper, who is at one of the launches at our own Rainham Marshes has this to say: “Nature reserves are fantastic places for wildlife – but without action beyond their borders they will struggle to conserve our native species which face a range of threats.

“We need to expand our horizons, looking at the needs of nature across whole landscapes. This is something many conservationists have been saying for a long time, and today the Government has shown its commitment to that approach. Without such efforts to restore lost habitat, our wildlife will continue to decline. 

“It’s only with conservation groups, government agencies, farmers, businesses and local communities working together that we can ensure these wildlife-rich areas continue to be home to a wide range of species and habitats for people to enjoy. 

“In these cash-strapped times it is reassuring to know that ministers have recognised that investing in nature returns significant benefits to the economy. As partners in several of the projects announced today we are looking forward to working with Government and others to improve these areas for wildlife and people.”

Of the 12 NIAs announced the RSPB is involved in nine of then and we will be leading two - the Dearne Valley Green Heart and the Dark Peak. This announcement is a significant boost to stepping up nature conservation to the landscape scale - and will help to support delivery through our own Futurescapes programme.

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