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New wildlife landscapes set high standards for woodlands

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Native broadleaves planting

New nature zones each covering thousands of hectares are to be set up across England, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman revealed today.

The 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) will each get a share of £7.5 million to create wildlife-rich landscapes, restore habitats and encourage local people to get involved with nature.

The Forestry Commission is very pleased and impressed to see the principles supporting woodlands all in the winning NIAs. There will be no overall deforestation when creating open habitats with new woodlands created. The use of woodlands to improve water quality and managing them for wildlife habitats has vey high profile in many NIAs.

Pam Warhurst, Forestry Commission Chair explained:

“These are fantastic projects filled with ambition and vision. Our own Senior Ecologist was on the judging panel for the NIAs and although few of the projects involve major woodland programmes, he was delighted to see the excellent principles underpinning the winning proposals.”

“New woodlands have the security of commitments to ongoing management which will benefit wildlife, improve water quality and produce timber or woodfuel to support the local green economy. Where trees have to be removed to restore open habitats, new woodlands will be planted and the material from the felling will be used locally for woodfuel. We hope that all landscape-scale projects in the future will adopt the same high standards.”

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.


Notes to Editor

  1. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for protecting and expanding England’s forests and woodlands and increasing their value to society and the environment.

  2. Defra launched a competition to fund an initial 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) in July 2011, judged by a panel led by Professor Sir John Lawton. The 12 successful partnerships will start work in April 2012 supported by a grant scheme from the Defra family of £7.5 million between 2012-2015 and willbe delivered by a variety of partnerships of local bodies, including ones led by farmers, NGOs, AONBs and a National Park. Defra news release.

    Further information on NIAs from Natural England.

  3. Jonathan Spencer, Forestry Commission England’s Senior Ecologist, was on the judging panel for the NIAs.

  4. Media Contact: Stuart Burgess, 0117 372 1073,