New nature zones covering hundreds of thousands of hectares are to be set up across England, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has announced.
The 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIA) announced today will each get a share of £7.5 million to create wildlife havens, restore habitats and encourage local people to get involved with nature.
From creating heathland on brownfield sites, a seven hectare lagoon and a network of wildlife-friendly dewponds to improving the conditions for birds, butterflies and amphibians, these 12 sites will provide the space for our wildlife to thrive.
Local groups have worked together on proposals for how they intend to use the money to improve their local nature sites for the enjoyment of the public and the benefit of wildlife. The 12 successful NIAs have been chosen from among 76 groups who competed to receive funding for their project.
Mrs Spelman said: ‘Each of these projects has something different to offer – from the urban areas of Birmingham and the Black Country to the rivers and woods of North Devon; from marshes, coalfields and wetlands to woodland and arable chalkland and grassland. The exciting wildlife projects are the result of different organisations all working together with a common purpose – to safeguard our wildlife for generations to come.’
The NIAs were awarded funding by a panel of experts, led by Professor Sir John Lawton, and were a key commitment of the Natural Environment White Paper.
Sir John Lawton said: ‘For more than 40 years I have had the privilege of working on nature-conservation issues in the UK, both as a professional scientist, and in the voluntary sector. Never in all that time have I seen the sort of creativity, partnership working and sheer enthusiasm that the NIA competition has released in consortia that want to deliver more effective conservation for England’s wonderful wildlife in their area. Choosing 12 winners from 76 bids was an awfully difficult task, but I believe we have 12 outstanding NIAs, each unique in what it is setting out to achieve, for the benefits of people and wildlife.’
Nature Improvement Areas were a flagship policy contained in last year’s Natural Environment White Paper ‘The Natural Choice’ which set out aims to improve the quality of the natural environment across England, halt the decline in habitats and species, and strengthen the connection between people and nature. It committed Government to supporting the natural environment to function more effectively through joined-up action at local and national levels to create an ecological network which is resilient to changing pressures.
More information on NIAs is available on the Natural England website: LINK
More information on the Natural Environment White Paper is available on the Defra website: LINK
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