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NECR441 Creating a Protected Area Network for nature recovery in England (NECR441)

The current suite of SSSIs forms an important starting point for the creation of a national Ecologically Connected Network of protected sites/areas, (ECN), foreseen as a key element of the wider Nature Recovery Network (NRN). Whilst Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are spread across England, it has been long recognised that many are too small (especially in the lowlands), and that their distribution is typically fragmented.

Several factors in the legislative and policy landscape mean that there is an opportunity now to address these issues, tackle existing threats, and to begin to create an ECN. Important current opportunities and next steps include maximising the conservation potential of recent changes to agriculture support mechanisms in England; using policy initiatives and powers within the 2021 Environment Act along with other policy options; further developing monitoring and assessment regimes; closer liaison and joint working with all parts of government and other organisations whose decisions influence land management; moving the conceptual basis of the SSSI network and its management from a static approach to a more dynamic, adaptive one, especially given the likely consequences of climate change impacting on protected areas, whilst sustaining existing protection; enhancing the network concept and level of management with decision makers in all organisations and agencies with responsibility for land management.

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NECR441 Edition 1 Creating a Protected Area Network for nature recovery in England, PDF, 1.0 MB 2023/08/23

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