Special Environmental Sites and Schemes

6. National Nature Reserves (NNR)

NNRs are designated by English Nature to protect the most important areas of wildlife habitat and geological formations in Britain and as places for scientific research. They are managed by English Nature or other approved bodies.  At the end of December 2003 there were 214 NNRs in England covering 87,859 hectares or about 0.9% of the land area. English Nature own about a quarter of the NNR estate and the rest is managed under long-term leases or private agreements. The most important function of the NNRs is that they provide areas for long term monitoring both of biological species as well as to assess environmental change and natural evolution. This research is also used to contribute to national monitoring schemes.

Examples of the largest NNRs include:-

  • The Wash (9, 899 ha)
  • Ribble Estuary (4, 520 ha)
  • The Cairngorms (25, 949 ha)

There are 23 NNRs of 20 ha or less and the following are only 2ha. These small reserves provide long-term research sites for ecological studies:-

  • Blelham Bog and North Fen (Cumbria)
  • Cothill (Oxfordshire)
  • Swanscombe (Kent)

The geographical range of NNRs is considerable with the highest in England being Meikle Fell and Dun Fell in Upper Teesdale both of which are over 700m. Conversely there are also 22 NNRs that lie on the coast and include intertidal land, estuaries, sand dunes, shingle bars, lagoons, cliffs and landslips and off-shore islands.

The management approach advocated by English Nature is one that results in many traditional agricultural management practices such as livestock grazing and coppicing, continuing with management activities utilising tractors and other modern machinery.

ADLib logo Content provided by the Agricultural Document Library
© University of Hertfordshire, 2011