Nature Improvement Area

Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) are an ongoing network of large scale initiatives in the landscape of England to improve ecological connectivity and improve biodiversity. At 2015 the NIAs cover 47,000 acres of England in total, achieved at a total cost of £7.5 million. At spring 2015 the NIAs have also added a further 13,500 acres beyond the initial 2012 areas, as well as a total of 335 miles of new footpaths for public access.


The NIAs form part of the UK Government's response to Sir John Lawton's 2010 report "Making Space for Nature".[1] They were then implemented via the Natural Environment White Paper, the first natural environment government White Paper in 20 years. In October 2011 a competition was launched by DEFRA to select twelve pilot sites for NIAs, and in response seventy-six entries were made.[2] On 27 February 2012 the final list of 12 Nature Improvement Areas was announced.[3] The NIAs were launched in 2012 they run with the aid of Local Nature Partnerships and around 11,000 local volunteers.

List of Nature Improvement Areas

The first twelve Nature Improvement Areas in England are:

Birmingham and Black Country Living Landscapes[4]
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 north of the Peak District National Park. It will restore habitats such as upland heathland and create 210 hectares of native woodland, such as that at Burbage Brook;
Dearne Valley Green Heart
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[5]
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 [6]
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[7]
This incorporates river, woodland and grassland. The project will recreate and restore 1,000 hectares of priority habitat and restore the much wider catchment area of 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; and
Wild Purbeck
Purbeck 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.


  1. ^ "Making Space for Nature: A review of England's Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network" (PDF). Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 November 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  2. ^ "Competition opens to create bigger and better local wildlife areas". Defra News. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
  3. ^ "Twelve new havens for wildlife announced". Defra News. 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
  4. ^ "Birmingham and Black Country Living Landscape". Birmingham & Black Country. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
  5. ^ "The Humberhead Levels Partnership". Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
  6. ^ "Issue details - Morecambe Bay Nature Improvement Area". Lancaster City Council. 2012-01-17. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
  7. ^ "Nature Improvement Areas". North Devon's Biosphere Reserve. Archived from the original on 2012-08-04. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
Bradley Branch

The Bradley Branch or Bradley Locks Branch was a short canal of the Birmingham Canal Navigations in the West Midlands, England. Completed in 1849, it included nine locks, and had a number of basins which enabled it to service local collieries and industrial sites. The locks were unusual, as they had a single gate at both ends, rather than double gates at the bottom end. The route closed in the 1950s, and the top seven locks were covered over and landscaped.

Since 2008, there have been calls for the branch to be reopened. In 2015 the results of a feasibility study for reopening were published, and the scheme was branded the Bradley Canal, since it would involve the restoration of the Bradley Branch and a connecting link from the top of the canal, using parts of the Wednesbury Oak Loop and the Rotton Brunt line. The plan has been spearheaded by the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust, rather than navigation interests, but there is an understanding that boats using the route will ensure that the many other benefits of reopening will be sustainable.

Morecambe Bay Pavements

Morecambe Bay Pavements is a multi-site Special Area of Conservation comprising limestone pavements around Morecambe Bay in North-West England. It was designated in 2005 under the Habitats Directive. The SAC does not include any marine areas; Morecambe Bay itself is a separate SAC, which was designated the same year.

The SAC is designated for its biological rather geological interest, but the areas protected, on the margins of Morecambe Bay, have in common that they feature faulted outcrops of Lower Carboniferous Limestone. The limestone tends to form hills as it is more resistant to erosion than other rocks in the area.

There are separate WP articles describing the sites (which are in the counties of Cumbria and Lancashire):

Cunswick Scar

Hutton Roof Crags

Scout Scar



NIA or Nia may refer to:

Nia (given name), including a list of people and fictional characters

Nia (fitness), a type of aerobic exercise

Nia (fungus), a genus of marine fungi

SS Nia, a French steamship in service 1952–54

Nia, a principle of Kwanza

Nia (album), a music album by Blackalicious

North Devon's Biosphere Reserve

North Devon's Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve in North Devon. It covers 55 square miles (140 km2) and is centred on Braunton Burrows, the largest sand dune system (psammosere) in England. The boundaries of the reserve follow the edges of the conjoined catchment basin of the Rivers Taw and the Torridge and stretch out to sea to include the island of Lundy. The biosphere reserve is primarily lowland farmland, and includes many protected sites including 63 Sites of Special Scientific Interest which protect habitats such as culm grassland and broadleaved woodlands. The most populous settlements in its buffer area are Barnstaple, Bideford, Northam, Ilfracombe, and Okehampton.

The reserve was the first of the "new style" of UNESCO biosphere reserves in the United Kingdom when it was expanded from its previous area in 2002. The new guidelines encourage its management to strike a balance between people and conservation of the environment they live in through sustainability, income generation, and a reduction in poverty. It is managed by the Biosphere Reserve Partnership, which includes a number of interested parties such as the Environment Agency, Natural England, Devon Wildlife Trust, and the National Trust. The partnership organises landscape projects and works closely with the inhabitants of the reserve.

Within the reserve's core area are the sand dune system and culm grassland. To the west in Bideford Bay (visible from the beach element of the dunes, Saunton Sands which is a due-west facing surfing beach) is a coral reef with a diversity of coral and marine life seen nowhere else in Britain. The sand dunes have a rich habitat of hundreds of flowering plants while the Taw-Torridge estuary is an important feeding area for long-journey migratory birds.

The economy of North Devon is largely supported by tourism. Four million people per year visit the area, and visitor numbers can rise as high as 60,000 per day in August. Most of these people come because of the environment.

Sizergh Castle and Garden

Sizergh Castle and Garden is a stately home and garden at Helsington in the English county of Cumbria, about 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Kendal. The castle, a grade I listed building, is in the care of the National Trust along with its garden and estate. It is the home of the Hornyold-Strickland family.

In 2016 the Sizergh estate was included in the newly extended Lake District National Park.

Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits

Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits is a 1,382.4 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in a chain of flooded gravel pits along 35 kilometres of the valley of the River Nene between Northampton and Thorpe Waterville (east of Kettering) in Northamptonshire. It is a Ramsar wetland site of international importance, a Special Protection Area under the European Communities Birds Directive and part of the Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area. It is also part of the River Nene Regional Park. Two areas are managed by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, Summer Leys and Titchmarsh Nature Reserve.This site is described by Natural England as "a nationally important site for its breeding bird assemblage of lowland open waters and their margins, wintering waterbird species, an assemblage of over 20,000 waterbirds in the non-breeding season and a rare example of wet floodplain woodland." The diverse habitats include, marsh, reedswamp, rough grassland, scrub, wet ditches, woodland and rush pasture. There are at least 21 breeding bird species, including mute swans, tufted ducks, little grebes, great crested grebes, little ringed plovers and redshanks.There is access to some parts of the site such as Summer Leys.

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