Urban Nature Improvement Area celebrates first anniversary

Tuesday 26th March 2013

Representatives from a major conservation project in Birmingham and the Black Country are attending a special event in London today (26th March) to mark the first anniversary of England’s Nature Improvement Area (NIA) programme.

The Birmingham and the Black Country Nature Improvement Area covers the whole of the urban conurbation. It is one of 12 partnership projects which were created a year ago following a competitive bidding process for a share of £7.5million new funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Natural England.

The aim of the NIA projects is to improve the landscape for people and nature through restoring, expanding and joining up wildlife-rich areas.

Today’s Forum in London will enable the 12 NIA partnership groups to share details and learning on the wide-ranging work they are doing to restore nature on a landscape scale.

Simon Atkinson, Project Manager for the Birmingham and the Black Country NIA, will be presenting the main achievements of the project to an audience at the Forum which includes Wildlife Minister Richard Benyon, Professor Sir John Lawton and Natural England Chair Poul Christensen.

Commenting on the first year’s achievements, Simon Atkinson said: “It’s fantastic that our partnership is exceeding all expectations, with locally driven projects happening right across Birmingham & the Black Country. Because of the involvement of local people more than 30 projects which are enhancing local green spaces for people and wildlife are already happening. This shows that with the right investment, bottom-up community involvement in nature conservation really does work.” 

Since its creation in April 2012, the partnership has supported over 30 important conservation projects to protect and enhance the area, such as:
• The ‘Kings Norton Nature Reserve Project’ where the friends group have had a new wetland constructed and have established a flower-rich meadow.
• In Rubery valuable heathland has been restored on Rubery Hill and one of the city’s most important geological sites enhanced on the roadside of the A38.
• In Wolverhampton an area of dense planted woodland at Kitchen Lane Open Space has been opened up and bluebell and other wild woodland flowers been introduced. 

Simon Atkinson continued: “With more support available over the coming year to develop projects and more funding to go into the work, urban nature conservation can really take off.”

The Birmingham and Black Country Nature Improvement Area

 The Birmingham & Black Country Nature Improvement Area is a partnership of over 50 organisations that have come together to deliver significant improvements to the natural environment of Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. The Nature Improvement Area is the culmination of decades of working towards our vision of an urban landscape permeated by a network of high quality greenspace which is rich in wildlife and enjoyed by the people who live and work here. It represents a step-change away from site-focused nature conservation to a joined-up landscape-scale approach. For more information, visit: http://www.bbcnia.org.uk


A broad partnership has been established led by the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, along with public, private and voluntary sector partners.
There are over 50 partners and details can be seen here: http://www.bbcwildlife.org.uk/nia/partners

The 12 Nature Improvement Areas

Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) were set up a year ago as part of the measures introduced in the Government’s Natural Environment White Paper. There are currently 12 NIAs which are large, discrete areas run by local partnerships of land management and conservation organisations and local authorities, overseen by Natural England. NIAs will benefit wildlife, people and economic growth by creating more and better-connected habitats and by enhancing landscapes. They will increase resilience to climate change and support the landscape’s ability to provide natural benefits like flood protection and clean water. The 12 NIAs’ diverse range of locally-led projects are involving and engaging more people with the natural environment. For more information on all 12 NIAs, visit: www.naturalengland.org.uk/nia

In total, NIAs cover an area of 5,000 sq km in England with projects focused in the following areas:

• Birmingham & the Black Country (West Midlands)
• Dark Peak (Derbyshire, South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire)
• Dearne Valley (South Yorkshire)
• Greater Thames Marshes (Essex and Kent)
• Humberhead Levels (Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire)
• Marlborough Downs (Wiltshire)
• Meres and Mosses of the Marches (Shropshire and South Cheshire)
• Morecambe Bay Limestone and Wetlands (Lancashire and Cumbria)
• Nene Valley (Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire)
• Northern Devon (North Devon)
• South Downs (Hampshire and Sussex)
• Wild Purbeck (Dorset)



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natural_england_nia_1st_anniversary_press_release.pdf181.53 KB
bbc_nia_1st_anniversary.pdf168.74 KB

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