Wildlife & Countryside

Wildlife & Countryside

Image showing countryside and plant life next to a river

These pages provide information about Defra's work on the conservation of wildlife and landscape, and on countryside recreation. Our aims are improved enjoyment of an attractive and well managed countryside for all; and effective conservation of wildlife. These are in line with the principles of sustainable development which inform all of our work.

Image showing a sign pointing to the South Downs

South Downs National Park Announcement

Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced on 31st March 2009 that a new National Park will be created for the South Downs

In this section:


  • Biodiversity
    Find out more on specific programmes Defra is involved in to halt the loss of biodiversity in the natural world from the commonplace to the critically endangered.
  • Wildlife Management
    Find out how Defra manages the impact of our interaction with wildlife from native to non-native species.
  • Wildlife Trade and Crime
    Find out what is done to regulate and monitor trade in endangered animals and plants (CITES), how conservation is enforced and how to report suspected crime.
  • Wildlife Protection
    Discover how we protect wildlife in England and the UK through acts, conventions and agreements. In this section, find out about the Convention on migratory species, dangerous wild animals, zoos and international agreements.


  • Countryside survey
    Countryside Survey is the biggest and most comprehensive survey of the natural resources of the UK’s countryside. Find out more.
  • Protected areas
    Find out how Defra protects the countryside and areas of special interest. In this section, find out more about commons land, AONBs, national parks and reserves, ramsar, local sites, SSSIs, UNESCO biospheres, SPAs and SACs.
  • Access to Countryside
    People have been campaigning for more open access to the countryside for well over 100 years. Find out how Defra works using Public Rights of Way and Countryside Rights of Way Acts to improve access to countryside and coast.
  • Forestry
    Find out more about the English Forestry Strategy which sets out the vision for England's tree and woodland resources.

Natural Environment Policy

The natural environment is a precious resource. It provides not only the essentials of life – air, water, food and fuel – but underpins our health, wellbeing and prosperity. By protecting and enhancing the natural environment, we can also significantly improve our quality of life. Find out more on our natural environment policy.

Other issues

  • Natural England Sponsorship
    More information on Defra's responsibilities in relation to Natural England.
  • JNCC Sponsorship
    More information on Defra's responsibilities in relation to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

Page last modified: 31 March 2009
Page published: 23 October 2008

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs