Natural England

Natural England are the governments advisors for the natural environment in England and  have overall responsibility for ensuring that the English countryside and coastal waters, and all the flora and fauna that inhabit them are protected and improved. They also have responsibilities for increasing opportunities for people to connect with nature. Generally speaking Natural England have more powers than most of the other conservation agencies and although they directly manage some nature reserves, in the main they tend to act in a more advisory capacity. The links at the bottom of this page provide detailed information on the wide ranging responsibilities of Natural England but from a wildlife and conservation point of view these are some of the key areas in which they work, usually in partnership with other wildlife agencies.

  • Protecting endangered and / or declining native species such as Great Crested Newts, White Tailed Crayfish, Natterjack Toads, Water Voles and several species of declining birds such as Curlew, Puffin, Willow Tit and Turtle Dove.
  • Defining and protecting areas of ancient woodland
  • Identifying and maintaining the condition of SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and NNRs (National Nature Reserves) to ensure that these precious habitats are protected.
  • Assisting local councils and other landowners with the designation and upkeep of Local Nature Reserves (LNRs)
  • Identifying and maintaining the condition of Marine Protection Zones (MPZs)
  • Maintaining and improving the quality and biodiversity of England's natural landscapes
  • Designating 'areas of outstanding natural beauty' (AONBs)
  • Advising and supporting farmers and other landowners on conservation of the natural environment

Wildlife Sites

Although involved at some level with just about every recognised wildlife site in the country Natural England are perhaps most well known for their connection to SSSIs and National Nature Reserves (NNRs), and to a lesser extent Local Nature Reserves (LNRs). SSSIs are designated as such by Natural England and kept under review but the vast majority are owned and managed by other agencies such as the Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and the National Trust with many others located on private land. There are over 4,000 such sites in England with over 350 in Yorkshire. NNRs of which there are 224 in England and 11 in Yorkshire, are similarly 'protected' areas of land, tend to be bigger and more accessible to the public with Natural England having direct input into roughly two thirds of these.

The interactive map on this page displays all of the National Nature Reserves in Yorkshire. Clicking on any of the marker pins will bring up a brief description of each site and external links for more information. For information and maps of SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and LNRs (Local Nature Reserves) please see the relevant sections on this site. Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) - in the process of being added.

Natural England - key roles, responsibilities & services

Access & Rights of Way

Land Management


Parks, trails & nature reserves

Protected sites & species


Wildlife & habitat conservation

Publications, maps & data

All services & information

Natural England website