09 Jul 2013
The Nene Valley NIA, covering an area of 41,350 hectares in the centre of England, contains a fragmented ecological network of statutory and non-statutory sites, including the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits SPA/SSSI (40% of units in favourable condition).
There are many pressures on the NIA, located as it is in the UK's second largest growth area. These include built development, increasing inappropriate public access, and competition for water resources. Land management practices threaten ecosystem services and the connectivity of habitats. The Nene Valley NIA Partnership was formed by its stakeholders to enable a strategic and joined up approach to tackling these issues. The stakeholders form a coalition of experts including new partners and others well established in the valley.
The NIA will reverse the decline in biodiversity and restore the ecological network in the Nene Valley. It will help meet the challenges of a growing population, changing climate, and need to produce food while realising complimentary benefits that create a naturally functioning interlinked landscape. The Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits SPA forms the core of the NIA acting as the building block from which a coherent and resilient ecological network will be achieved.
A Habitat Opportunity Map will be completed by April 2012 and will set out a unified vision for the natural landscape of the Nene Valley.
It presents a landmark in nature conservation for Northamptonshire and Peterborough, recognising the importance of the valley for wildlife and the strong partnership between private, public and voluntary sector organisations. The Nene Valley NIA project will receive significant Government funding over three years and is being led by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire, together with the River Nene Regional Park. The wider Nene Valley NIA partnership includes over 20 other organisations including the Environment Agency, River Restoration Centre, Northamptonshire County Council, The University of Northampton, Peterborough City Council and the RSPB.
The aim of the Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area is to achieve a step-change in the mechanisms for delivering nature conservation to create a resilient ecological network in the Nene Valley, through five key objectives:
- Growth and development will support, value and benefit the natural environment resulting in a sustainable funding source and delivery of improvements to the ecological network
- Enhance awareness of, access to and benefits from the Nene Valley for growing local communities in a sustainable and sympathetic way, while ensuring that the designated sites at the core are brought into/remain in favourable condition
- Improve ecological status of the river and enhance ecosystem service provision
- Through effective engagement with farmers and landowners maintain, restore and create BAP habitats and implement sustainable land management practices to strengthen the ecological network
- Investigate the potential to market ecosystem services provided by the Nene Valley by developing and trialling tools and models for Payments for Ecosystem Services