|English Nature was established by the Environmental Protection Act 1990,
coming into operation on 1 April 1991 and taking forward the work of the former Nature
Conservancy Council of England. Our purpose is to promote directly and through others the
conservation of the wildlife and natural features of England. English Nature has a duty to
establish and manage National Nature reserves; advise Ministers and others on policies for
and affecting nature conservation and the policies which impact on conservation; provide
advice and disseminate information about nature conservation; commission, carry out or
support relevant research and make grants for nature conservation purposes. Its duties
include notification of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and to issue, or
advise Ministers on the issue of licences affecting protected species. In short, the
improvement of England's biodiversity and natural features. We see our role as adviser,
regulator, enabler and enthuser.
English Nature can trace its history back to 1919 in
the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. Subsequent legislation during the
1950s and 1960s strengthened protection for species while the Wildlife and Countryside act
1981 placed great emphasis on SSSIs.
Set up in 1995, the Enquiry Service deals with general enquiries about the work of
English Nature and nature conservation. It is also the source for copies of the Research
Reports series and county Ancient Woodland Inventories. It acts as a referral point for
all queries, especially careers. Local enquiries should be directed by the appropriate
Local Team- their addresses are available on the English Nature Website.
Following publication of the draft Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill in
February , English Nature, the environment activities of the Rural Development Service and the Countryside Agency’s Landscape, Access and Recreation division are working together to protect and enhance our landscapes and wildlife, promote countryside access and recreation.
In 2006 the three organisations will be united in a single body with responsibility for enhancing biodiversity and our landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas; promoting access, recreation and public well-being, and contributing to the way natural resources are managed – so they can be enjoyed now and for future generations.
Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has announced that the new agency will be called Natural England.
Natural England will have a role in rural, urban and marine environments. Its general purpose will be to ensure that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations, thereby contributing to sustainable development.
Natural England's functions will include:
- promoting nature conservation and protecting biodiversity,
- conserving and enhancing the English landscape,
- securing the provision and improvement of facilities for the study,
- understanding and enjoyment of nature,
- promoting access to the countryside and open spaces and encouraging open-air recreation, and
- contributing in other ways to social and economic well-being through management of the natural environment
It will have all the powers of the existing bodies including awarding grants, giving advice and information, designating Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, managing National Nature Reserves, and enforcing the associated regulations.
Natural England will work in partnership with the Environment Agency, who will continue to lead on environmental protection and improvement of soil, air and water, and the Forestry Commission, who will continue to lead on sustainable forest management.