Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) set up by the government in 2012 have helped farmers to access EU grants, made valuable contributions towards university research and boosted the £210 billion rural economy.They’ve also attracted outside investment – more than £730,000 from business partners and £7.8 million from NGOs and not-for-profit organisations.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “A healthy environment and a healthy economy go hand in hand. These Nature Improvement Areas show how protecting our precious wildlife and outstanding landscapes can help grow our £30 billion rural tourism industry and create more jobs for hardworking people as part of our long term economic plan.”
Almost 19,000 hectares of threatened habitat – equivalent to 23,000 football pitches – have been created or restored since the NIAs were set up with £7.5 million of government funding.
NIAs were first announced in the Natural Environment White Paper, the first government White Paper on the environment for 20 years, with the aim of creating 12 initial areas to reconnect nature on a significant scale through local partnerships. The NIA partnerships are on track to restore, create, enhance and maintain a further 5,500 hectares by 2015, joining up people and communities with their landscapes.