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Natural Areas
 
Natural Areas & Their Role
 
Natural Areas are sub-divisions of England, each with a characteristic association of wildlife and natural features. They provide a way of interpreting the ecological variations of the country in terms of natural features, illustrating the distinctions between one area and another. Each Natural Area has a unique identity resulting from the interaction of wildlife, landforms, geology, land use and human impact.

Natural Areas have been formally defined as ‘biogeographic zones which reflect the geological foundation, the natural systems and processes and the wildlife in different parts of England, and provide a framework for setting objectives for nature conservation' (Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report, HMSO, 1995).

The purpose of this approach is to provide a wider context for nature conservation action. Natural Areas take into account not only the wildlife and natural features of the landscape, but also the views of the people who live and work there. Thus we have incorporated a sense of place into these areas and their descriptions. Natural Areas help us to set objectives, define national priorities and local targets, and decide where in England resources should be focused to best effect. A result of this is that national targets can be converted into local action, helping us and others to ‘think globally and act locally'. The instigation of local action by local people is a key ambition of the Natural Area approach.

Natural Areas provide a consistent, ecologically coherent countrywide framework to focus national targets to a level that can be used locally. Examples of their use include their role as a means to target the Countryside Stewardship scheme, administered by DEFRA, and the breakdown of national targets or priorities, such as those set out in the Biodiversity Action Plan and the Habitats Directive, to a more local Natural Area level.
 
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