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
Click on the thumbnail map to find an NCA and also useful maps with other geographical boundary overlays

On this page:

National Character Area profiles

As part of its responsibilities in delivering the Natural Environment White Paper, Biodiversity 2020 and the European Landscape Convention as well as its own statutory purpose, Natural England has revised the National Character Area (NCA) profiles to make environmental evidence and information easily accessible to a wide audience.

NCA profiles provide a broad range of information that can be used by individuals and communities to help achieve a more sustainable future. The profiles include a description of the ecosystem services provided in each character area and how these benefit people, wildlife and the economy. They identify opportunities for positive environmental change and provide the best available information and evidence as a context for local decision making and action.

View the NCA profilesexternal link or use the map to find your NCA

Other sources of information

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 supporting the NCA profiles and our understanding of how our landscapes have changed. These can be found with the published profiles via the National Character Area map.   
More detailed information about local landscape character can be found in local landscape character assessments, often carried out at county or district levels. These can be found through the Landscape Character Network database

Case stories

Many of the NCA profiles have been in circulation for some time and are already being used by us and our partners to make better informed decisions. We have compiled some examples of how they are being used and applied in a variety of situations. The following themed case stories form 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 used a NCA profile in your work and have a story to share, please contact us:

Glossary of terms

A full list and explanation of specialist terms used throughout the documents: (213kb)pdf document.

Background information about key facts and data

National information held by Natural England has been collated for each NCA. These data sets are intended to support developing landscape scale projects and the contents of the profiles. 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 to periodically review the contents and sources of information.

More information on the data used in the profiles is available on the background information page.


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

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