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National Nature Reserve
Sections 16 to 29 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 in England enabled the Nature Conservancy Council for England (NCCE), now Natural England, to establish nature reserves. These provisions were strengthened by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Similar provisions are in force throughout the UK.
An NNR is an area which is among the best examples of a particular habitat. NNRs are of national importance. They are in many cases owned and managed by the statutory authority, (for example Natural England), but not always. An NNR has to be managed appropriately to retain its special status. There is at least one example of an improperly managed NNR being de-designated.
An NNR is designated by a competent statutory authority, depending upon which country it is in.
• Natural England.
• Scottish Natural Heritage.
• Countryside Council for Wales.
This body is known as the designating body. An NNR is given strict protection against damaging operations, and any such operations must in theory be authorised by the designating body. It also has strong protection against development on and around it. An NNR has the highest level of conservation protection available under UK legislation.
Not all NNRs are completely open to the public, although most have some areas which are accessible, and some are major tourist attractions.
At the end of March 2004 there were 215 NNRs in England covering over 87,900 hectares - that is over 0.5% of the land area of England.
Natural England's official pages about NNRs.