North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve in south west England has been chosen by Defra, the UK Government’s Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as one of only 12 pilot areas for 3-year Nature Improvement Area (NIA) projects in England. Defra established the NIA following the publication of the Natural Environment White Paper 2011.
The thinking behind Nature Improvement Areas is that the value of special, protected wildlife sites will degrade over time unless we create better conditions for wildlife between them. North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve is based on the catchments of the rivers Taw and Torridge and includes not just the special areas but also the land that is least well protected by existing mechanisms and that is under significant pressure. With its core purposes of conservation, sustainable development and learning the Biosphere Reserve is an ideal place to pilot the NIA approach.
Our Devon NIA focuses on a 20km length of the River Torridge Catchment which is about 30% of the land area of the Biosphere Reserve. Within the 72000 Ha target area, it will re-create and restore 1000ha of important habitats such as wet grassland and woodland and benefit critically endangered species such as the marsh fritillary butterfly and freshwater pearl mussel. This work is
vital to improving the quality of water courses, supporting flood mitigation and stimulating the local woodland economy.