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Last edited 31 Dec 2014
Nature improvement area
Nature Improvement Areas (NIA) are areas of land that have been identified for the opportunity they offer to restore nature at a landscape scale in conjunction with other land uses. They were established in 2012 after the publication of the Natural Environment White Paper, with the intention of creating ecological networks that help improve the health of the natural environment, reduce flood risk, support food production and increase accessibility to nature.
They are defined by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as 'Inter-connected networks of wildlife habitats intended to re-establish thriving wildlife populations and help species respond to the challenges of climate change.'
Following publication of the Natural Environment White Paper, the government launched a competition to identify 12 potential Nature Improvement Areas and provide £7.5 million in funding. A panel assessed the entrants and in February 2012, the 12 areas were announced:
- Birmingham and the Black Country.
- Dearne Valley.
- Humberland Levels.
- Marlborough Downs.
- Meres and Mosses of the Marches.
- Morecambe Bay Limestones and Wetlands.
- Nene Valley.
- Northern Devon.
- South Downs Way Ahead.
- The Dark Peak.
- The Greater Thames Marshes.
- Wild Purbeck.
The areas are funded by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Natural England and are run by partnerships of local authorities, landowners, local communities, the private sector and conservation organisations.
 Monitoring and progress
Each of the 12 Nature Improvement Areas are monitored to assess the success of the varying approaches taken in each area. The monitoring focuses on four themes:
- Ecosystem services.
- Social and economic benefits and contributions to wellbeing.
- Partnership Working.
The first phase of monitoring was undertaken in 2012 and phase two will be completed by November 2015.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- Designated sites.
- National nature reserves.
- National parks.
- National Planning Policy Framework.
- National Trust.
- Natural England.
- Natural Environment White Paper.
- Planning permission.
- Protected species.
 External references
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