Natural England describes itself with this summary:

"Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. We conserve and enhance the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings." [1]

Natural England is a Non-Departmental Public Body of the UK government. It was formed (vested) on 1 October 2006. It is responsible for ensuring that England's natural environment, including its land, flora and fauna, freshwater and marine environments, geology and soils, are protected and improved. It also has a responsibility to help people enjoy, understand and access the natural environment.

Natural England was established by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, which implemented the recommendations of a rural review by Christopher Haskins, Baron Haskins of Skidby. It was formed by the amalgamation of three founder bodies:

  • Countryside Agency, the landscape, access and recreation elements
  • English Nature
  • Rural Development Service, the environmental land management functions of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

It received the powers of the founder bodies e.g. awarding grants; designating Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest; managing certain National Nature Reserves; overseeing access to open country and other recreation rights; and enforcing the associated regulations. It is also responsible for the administration of numerous grant schemes and frameworks that finance the development and conservation of the natural environment, for example Environmental Stewardship.

As an NDPB it is theoretically independent of Government. However, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs will have the legal power to issue guidance to Natural England on various matters, a constraint that is not placed on its predecessor NDPBs. Natural England takes its Finance, Human Resources and Estates services from the Defra Shared Services organisation. Information Technology services are outsourced to IBM; it will be responsible for the delivery of some aspects of Defra's Public Service Agreements (e.g. reversing the long-term decline in the number of farmland birds by 2020 and improving public access to the countryside).

Natural England is focusing its activities and resources on four strategic outcomes:

  • a healthy natural environment
  • enjoyment of the natural environment
  • sustainable use of the natural environment
  • a secure environmental future

State of the Natural Environment Edit

In May 2008 Natural England published a report called State of the Natural Environment. This brought together statistics and facts about England's environment, so that it could be used by environmental organisations as a benchmark and source for policy development.

This complemented reports produced by other organisations

  • Environmental facts and figures Environment Agency
  • Heritage counts English Heritage
  • State of the UK's birds RSPB
  • State of Britain's butterflies Butterfly Conservation

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  1. Natural England, July 14 2008

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