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New boost for England’s wildlife

…as nature areas are unveiled

Government plans for Nature Improvement Areas unveiled today will mean a brighter future for wildlife in 12 distinctive and character landscapes across England.

From the crowded Thames Estuary – homes to thousands of wildfowl and wetland birds – to the spectacular downlands of Wiltshire and the wild landscape of the Peak District, today’s announcement identifies iconic landscapes where government investment will reap benefits for nature.

The 12 NIAs will build on a growing approach to conservation on a landscape scale, which also has benefits as larger landscapes can buffer people and wildlife against the impacts of climate change. It complements work already being carried out by conservation groups, including the RSPB’s own Futurescapes programme.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said: “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.”

Twelve Nature Improvement Areas have been announced today. The RSPB will be involved in 9 of these projects. The RSPB is leading on: the Dearne Valley Green Heart NIA; and the Dark Peak: Public and Private Lands Partnership. The RSPB is involved as a partner in other projects, including: Greater Thames Marshes NIA; Humberhead Levels NIA; Meres and Mosses of the Marches NIA; Morcambe Bay Limestone & Wetlands; Nene Valley NIA; South Downs Way Ahead NIA; and Wild Purbeck.

The RSPB’s Futurescapes programme is working in 34 key wildlife areas across the UK to improve the conditions for wildlife and people. These sites include: Morecambe Bay, the Inner Forth, the North Wales Moors, and Lough Neagh and Loch Erne Basins.

4th July 2014