Birmingham and Black Country Living Landscape NIA

View from the Rowley Hills; Credit Paul HarriesA view from the middle of the NIA

The Birmingham and Black Country Living Landscape NIA has been chosen as one of the first twelve Nature Imporvement Areas in England. The vision of the Partnership is to achieve long-term environmental gains for the wildlife and people of Birmingham & the Black Country by delivering targeted, on the ground, biodiversity projects at a landscape scale.

Secretary of State Caroline Spelman, Sir John Lawton and Neil Wyatt, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black CountryThe NIA includes the whole of Birmingham and the Black Country (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton). This strong natural boundary conforms to existing partnerships and communications, data collection, reporting and monitoring mechanisms. Two existing Living Landscape projects provide a coherent landscape-scale vision and context for the whole area which are consistent with the area’s Biodiversity Action Plan, existing green infrastructure and core strategies. The partners - in particular the Local Records Centre and the local authorities - hold up-to-date ecological and spatial datasets covering Birmingham and the Black Country which allow us to interpret the ecology of the landscape at this scale.

Making Space for Nature, the NEWP and the EBS recognise the ecological value of urban areas. Birmingham and the Black Country is the largest urban area in the UK across which there is an established partnership and a consistent vision for achieving landscape-scale environmental gains. The NIA is a unique opportunity to engage the 2.2 million people who live and work within the area - it provides opportunities for volunteering, taking part in biological recording and monitoring, engaging with the work of the NIA partners and better enjoying its greenspaces and wildlife.

In addition to the typically urban environment, Birmingham and the Black Country comprises many other land-use types including extensive semi-natural habitats, ‘urban common’ and countryside. Opportunities exist to enhance ecological processes and the management of our geological resource across the NIA, and also to increase the contribution of green infrastructure to the area’s economy, increase the value of our ecosystem services and strengthen resilience to climate change.

The NIA lies partly within three National Character Areas and links to landscape scale initiatives which cross its boundaries such as the Tame Valley Partnership, the Cannock-Sutton Park Heathland complex, the Forest of Mercia partnership, Kingfisher Country Park and the North Worcestershire Grasslands corridor. The core resource of NNRs, SSSIs, LNRs and Local Wildlife Sites is complemented by other open spaces in a varied but connected landscape.

The Birmingham and Black Country Living Landscape NIA has five Key Objectives:

  • To increase the amount of wildlife habitat in the NIA - BIGGER
  • To enhance the value of existing habitats across the NIA – BETTER
  • To increase the number of sites with wildlife value across the NIA – MORE
  • To target action on corridors and stepping stones for biodiversity – JOINED
  • To involve local communities in the above work – PEOPLE

In order to meet the Key Objectives we have designed a simple structure for the NIA which is informed by an understanding of the landscape and its ecology. This will enable partners to target and prioritise project delivery where it will achieve the greatest biodiversity gains. The NIA structure is based on a number of Delivery Themes, each of which have been identified spatially (i.e. the geographic focus has been mapped), and which together cover the whole of the NIA area. For each of the delivery themes a main emphasis has been identified:

  • Woodland – management & enhancement of recently established woodland. 
  • Grassland – restoration & linking of long-established grassland.
  • Heathland – restoration & linking of long-established heathland.
  • Corridors – improving quality, linkage & bridging gaps.
  • Geology and Geomorphology – linking geodiversity and biodiversity.
  • Community Engagement – involving people.

The Birmingham and Black Country NIA will test innovative approaches to targeting and collaboration which will encourage similar initiatives in other urban areas, and which set the scene for the ongoing future development of our NIA. The partnership has a track record of documenting and sharing best practice between practitioners, academics, decision-makers and the general public in many ways including the web, conferences, papers and research projects.

At Nagoya in 2010 the UK joined other countries by committing to ambitious, but achievable, targets for securing more effective conservation of biodiversity by 2020 . The delivery plan for achieving these targets is the England Biodiversity Strategy . The Birmingham and Black Country Living Landscape NIA will demonstrate that every part of the conurbation can potentially play a full and vital part in achieving these targets, and that doing so can bring benefits to people from all parts of society.

The full details of the proposed Nature Improvement Area are set out in the Business Plan which can be downloaded using the link at the bottom of this page.

You can show your support for the NIA proposals here: NIA POLL

NIA news links:

BBC coverage of Birmingham and Black Country Living Landscape NIA

BBC Coverage of whole NIA announcement

DEFRA announcement of the NIA competition

Natural England NIA web pages

RSWT NIA pages

Ecosulis blog

LEAF blog

MADE blog

Mark Avery's blog

CLA perspective

NFU perspective


FilenameFile size
Business Plan - Birmingham and Black Country NIA.pdf4.9 MB
List of Partner Organisations.pdf39.58 KB