England has a diverse range of habitats resulting in a wonderfully rich and varied wildlife. It hosts some of Europe’s most threatened species and habitats which are protected as part of a Europe-wide network of nature conservation areas (known as the Natura 2000 network). Many of these sites are in favourable condition, but a number continue to face pressures such as pollution, over and under grazing, and impacts from invasive, non-native species.
The Improvement Programme for England’s Natura 2000 sites (IPENS), supported by European Union LIFE+ funding, is a new strategic approach to managing England’s Natura 2000 sites. It will enable Natural England, the Environment Agency, and other key partners to plan what, how, where and when they will target their efforts on Natura 2000 sites and the areas surrounding them.
The report identifies the 11 priorities for action to improve the condition of Natura 2000 sites in England. These priorities are part of a scoping exercise which will now be used to develop a strategic programme for management of the Natura 2000 network in England. IPENS will now develop ‘theme plans’, clarifying the nature of each issue and identifying (new) solutions across Natura 2000 sites.