The 12 initial Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) aim to provide better places for wildlife, to improve the natural environment for people, and to unite local communities, landowners and business through a shared vision. They will try out different approaches, and the variety of objectives, issues and partnerships seen across the NIAs is part of this purpose. Nevertheless a consistent approach for monitoring and evaluation is necessary to be able to assess what works well, and potentially not so well, and to take stock overall. The NIAs are applying several concepts where the practical use of science is still contested and/or developing, for example relating to restoration of habitat connectivity and ecosystem services. Implementation of such new and largely untested approaches poses significant challenges.
As part of the NIA programme, the 12 initial NIAs are required to undertake monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of their projects. This Year 1 (2012-13) Progress Report presents the results of the evaluation of the NIAs at the end of their first year of activity. Defra project code WC1061.