Defra’s Nature Improvement Areas

By SDRN on 9th March 2012

LOCATION: 12 locations, UK-wide.

AIM: To create wildlife havens, restore habitats and encourage local people to get involved with nature.

BACKGROUND: In order to address calls for an improved ecological network across the UK, an important commitment made within Defra’s Natural Environment White Paper, ‘The Natural Choice: Securing the Value of Nature’, was to ‘enable partnerships of local authorities, local communities and landowners, the private sector and conservation organisations to establish new Nature Improvement Areas, based on a local assessment of opportunities for restoring and connecting nature on a significant scale’. Following an open competition in which 76 local groups submitted proposals for how they would deliver the aims of the initiative, 12 initial areas have been chosen, each of which will be awarded a share of £7.5 million to implement their proposals.

STATUS: Commencing.


  • Birmingham and the Black Country Living Landscape will create healthland on brownfield sites and 40ha of new native woodland.
  • Dark Peak will restore habitats such as upland healthland and create 210ha of native woodland.
  • Dearne Valley Green Heart will restore the River Don floodplain and create new wetlands and woodlands.
  • Greater Thames Marshes will create and enhance grazing marsh, salt marsh and mudflat habitats.
  • Humberhead Levels will create or restore at least 1,427ha of wetland habitat.
  • Marlborough Downs is a predominantly farmer-led partnership looking to restore chalk and grassland habitats and increase the number of farmland birds, as well as creating a network of traditional clay-lined dewponds to act as wildlife havens.
  • Meres and Mosses of the Marshes aims to reduce diffuse pollution by working with farmers, improving peatlands and restoring wildlife areas around the River Perry.
  • Morecambe Bay Limestones and Wetlands will restore coast and freshwater habitats and create 200ha of woodland, planting 10,000 native trees and developing habitats for six species.
  • Nene Valley will work with farmers to restore habitats and tributaries of the River Nene.
  • Northern Devon will recreate and restore 1,000ha of priority habitat, and restore the River Torridge so that it can support the critically endangered pearl mussel.
  • South Downs Way Ahead will restore 1,000ha of chalk grassland, with the aim of encouraging the return of the Duke of Burgandy butterfly and several species of farmland birds.
  • Wild Purbeck will introduce livestock to manage healthland, restore wetland and create or restore 15 ponds as well as creating 120ha of new woodland and a new 7ha saline lagoon.


Information taken directly from the Defra website:

Natural Environment White Paper: