Natural England - Improvement Programme for England’s Natura 2000 sites

Improvement Programme for England’s Natura 2000 sites

The Improvement Programme for England’s Natura 2000 sites (IPENS), supported by EU LIFE+, is a new strategic approach to managing England’s Natura 2000 sites. It will enable Natural England, the Environment Agency, and other key partners to plan what, how, where and when they will target their efforts on Natura 2000 sites and areas surrounding them.


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Latest news

(February 2014)Technical notes from the Theme Plan workshops are now available
(January 2014) -The second issue of the IPENS newsletter is now available: (213kb)pdf document
(December 2013) -  Case study: tackling issues on one of Britain’s largest lowland raised bogs.
(December 2013) - Theme Plan workshops – tackling the ‘challenging’ issues

Previous news

What’s the purpose of the programme?

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are collectively known as Natura 2000 sites and are protected under European legislation for their important wildlife and habitats. In England there are 337 Natura 2000 sites: (735kb) covering 2,077,276 hectares. 

Whilst many sites are well on the path to recovery, a significant number are not yet in a healthy state and have appropriate management measures in place (termed "favourable condition"). The IPENS programme will develop a strategic approach to achieving favourable condition on England’s Natura 2000 sites by reviewing, for each site:

  • the risks and issues that are impacting on and/or threatening the condition of the site
  • which mechanisms (i.e. actions and measures) could be used to address them
  • how much it will cost and where the money could come from.

The project will work with key stakeholders to agree how best they can contribute. It will also identify where no suitable mechanisms currently exist, which in turn will initiate work to devise new solutions.

What will the programme deliver and when?

By June 2015 the programme will deliver:

  • An Improvement Plan for each Natura 2000 site.
  • Theme Plans to address issues that affect multiple Natura 2000 sites. 
  • An Overall Programme Plan outlining the future management of Natura 2000 sites in England.
  • An easily accessible directory of mechanisms (i.e. actions and measures) and funding options to deliver favourable condition on Natura 2000 sites.

How IPENS will help

This will be the first time that this information will have been drawn together for all of England’s Natura 2000 sites. It will provide us with:

  • An improved understanding of the issues affecting our Natura 2000 sites and how to address them.
  • A clear, costed, plan of action for improving their condition.
  • Recommendations to address current gaps in Natura 2000 funding and evidence.

It will also help enable the UK Government to meet its responsibilities under the Habitat and Birds Directives.

Who’s involved in the programme?

Natural England is leading the two year programme in partnership with the Environment Agencyexternal link and with support from the European Union’s LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity programmeexternal link.

Workshops and events 

The Programme will also involve working in partnership with a large range of stakeholders who are responsible for and/or interested in the management of Natura 2000 sites. Throughout the programme we will be running a series of workshops and events to hear your views.

Contact us

If you would like to contribute information and ideas to the Programme, or if you would like more information about the Programme please email or telephone: Helen Rae, Programme Manager, 07919 058644.

Further information