Natural England - National Character Areas – defining England’s natural boundaries

National Character Areas – defining England’s natural boundaries

National Character Areas (NCAs) divide England into 159 distinct natural areas. Each is defined by a unique combination of landscape, biodiversity, geodiversity and cultural and economic activity. Their boundaries follow natural lines in the landscape rather than administrative boundaries, making them a good decision making framework for the natural environment.

NCA thumbnail map
The NCA boundaries follow natural lines in the landscape. Click on the thumbnail map to find an NCA and also useful maps with other geographical boundary overlays

On this page:

NCA full profiles

As part of its responsibilities in delivering the Natural Environment White Paper, Biodiversity 2020 and the European Landscape Convention, Natural England is revising its National Character Area profiles to make environmental evidence and information easily available to a wider audience.

NCA profiles are guidance documents which will help to achieve a more sustainable future for individuals and communities. The profiles include a description of the key ecosystem services provided in each character area and how these benefit people, wildlife and the economy. They identify potential opportunities for positive environmental change and provide the best available information and evidence as a context for local decision making and action.

Revised profiles for all 159 Character Areas are due to be published by April 2014.

Find the full profiles currently availableexternal link

Key facts and data

National information held by Natural England has been collated for each NCA to make the key facts and data available prior to the publication of the full profiles. These data sets are intended to support developing landscape scale projects and will be replaced by full profiles, as these are published.

Find the key facts and data

Not all data held by our partners is currently available to Natural England and new information is constantly being produced. At present we have used nationally available and consistent sources of information. We aim periodically to review the contents and sources of information used in these documents. More information on the data is available on the  background information page.

Joint Character Area and Countryside Character Area descriptions

The new NCA profiles update the previously published Joint Character Area (JCAs) and Countryside Character Area descriptions (1998-1999 by the Countryside Agency).  These are still available for reference as part of the overall body of evidence behind the NCA profiles and can be found with the published profiles and Key Facts and Data documents via the National Character Area map.  
More detailed information on local landscape character is also available on the Landscape Character Network database

Case stories

Now that most of the National Character Area profiles have been in circulation for some time we would like to share some examples of how they are being used and applied to various situations. The following themed case stories are the first in a suite of short examples that we would like to share to help encourage others to make use of the evidence and information contained within the profiles.

If you have an NCA story to share, please contact us.

Glossary of terms

A full list and explanation of specialist terms used throughout the documents: (600kb)pdf document.


We would like to hear how useful the NCA profiles are to you.  You can contact the NCA team on:

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