Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs)
In a Natural Environment White Paper, Defra set out our vision for Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) to be created wherever the opportunities or benefits are greatest, driven by the knowledge and vision of local partners. These landscape-scale initiatives aim to ensure that land is used sustainably to achieve multiple benefits for people, wildlife and the local economy. It is not the intention of NIAs to stifle sustainable development within the area; economic development within an NIA will remain vital, and many development proposals will have no or minimal impacts on the overall integrity or objectives of the NIA.
Defra set out a role for Local Nature Partnerships to establish new, locally determined NIAs in their area and stated that it is for Local Planning Authorities to decide whether and how to recognise an NIA in their local plans. Defra devised criteria to assist Local Nature Partnerships in the identification of locally determined NIAs and the following NIAs were identified by individual partnerships based on those criteria.
The following Locally Determined NIAs were formally adopted by the Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership in 2015:
1. Severn Vale
The NIA covers the flood plain of the River Severn and the lower reaches of its major
tributaries in Gloucestershire.
2. Cotswold Scarp
The NIA consists of the Cotswold scarp from and including the limestone valleys around
Bath, the settled valleys around Stroud up to Ebrington Hill. The NIA also takes in Bredon
3. Cotswold Valleys
The NIA consists of the river valley systems of the Evenlode, Windrush, Leach, Coln, Churn
and the By Brook. The NIA continues into Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Bath and NE Somerset.
4. Cotswold Water Park
The NIA covers a total of 19,500 hectares within Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Swindon
Please refer to the below map and the appending document for more information about the NIA designations, their ecological opportunities, the ecosystem services they provide, and their links to urban green infrastructure.