Natural England - National Character Areas highlight the richness of England’s landscapes as the 25th profile is published

National Character Areas highlight the richness of England’s landscapes as the 25th profile is published

14 December 2012

The South Purbeck National Character Area (NCA) is the 25th NCA revised profile to be published as Natural England refreshes the entire series.

NCAs divide England into 159 distinct natural areas. Each is defined by a unique combination of landscape, biodiversity, geodiversity and cultural and economic activity. Their boundaries follow natural lines in the landscape rather than administrative boundaries, offering a broader perspective on the natural environment. As part of its responsibilities in delivering the Natural Environment White Paper, Biodiversity 2020 and the European Landscape Convention, Natural England is revising its National Character Area profiles to make environmental evidence and information easily available to a wider audience.

South Purbeck sits within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB); Tom Munro, Manager of the AONB, says that the emerging profiles “will provide my team with a new level of detail, over and above their detailed Landscape Character Assessment, which provides a considered analysis of the landscape/ecosystem function and valuable evidence for project planning”. He added that the profiles “often re-enforce what we felt we knew, but now add a layer of persuasive evidence to those views. In other cases the evidence may make us stand back and re-think our assumptions”.

NCA profiles are evidence documents that will provide a much greater level of detail to help inform decisions that affect the environment at both a local and a national scale. Each one includes:

  • A detailed description of key landscape features and the most important elements of biodiversity, geodiversity, land management and use, access and engagement.
  • A summary of the ecosystem services that the NCA supports and how these might be secured.
  • A set of statements of environmental opportunity which set out possibilities for future enhancement of the area.
Our partners are already using the refreshed profiles in diverse projects:
  • Action for Communities in Cumbria are using the High Fells profiles to inform their work facilitating the Whole Valley Planning workshops for the Lake District National Park. They also plan to use the profile when developing a HLF bid looking at recording the cultural history of Wordsworth’s 12 valleys in the Lakes.
  • The Lewis Community Partnership are developing an local ecosystem services project as part of the South Downs Nature Improvement Area (NIA). They are really interested in the emerging ecosystem services information in the final draft of the South Downs NCA and seeing how they can help to secure these as part of the NIA.
  • Jessica Sellick of Rose Regeneration Economic Development Practitioners said "I recently worked with Pennine Prospects on their application for the South Pennines to become a Local Nature Partnership and the new NCA was invaluable, and Natural England staff incredibly knowledgeable about the underpinning data and issues." Pennine Prospects also used the information in their Heritage Lottery Fund Watershed Landscape Project application, which was awarded £1.9m over 3 years and recently won the UK Landscapes Award.

We would like to hear how useful the NCA profiles are to you. You can contact the NCA team on: ncaprofiles@naturalengland.org.uk.

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Notes to Editors:

About NCAs

As part of its responsibilities in delivering the Natural Environment White Paper, Biodiversity 2020 and the European Landscape Convention, Natural England is revising its National Character Area profiles to make environmental evidence and information easily available to a wider audience. NCA profiles are evidence documents which will help to achieve a more sustainable future for individuals and communities. The profiles include a description of the key ecosystem services provided in each character area and how these benefit people, wildlife and the economy. They identify potential opportunities for positive environmental change and provide the best available information and evidence as a context for local decision making and action. Revised profiles for all 159 Character Areas are due to be published by April 2014.

For further information (media only) contact: Lyndon Marquis 0300 060 4236, lyndon.marquis@naturalengland.org.uk, out of hours 07970 098005.

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