What is a National Character Area (NCA)?

National Character Area (NCA) is a natural subdivision of England based on a combination of landscape, biodiversity, geodiversity and economic activity. There are 159 National Character Areas and they follow natural, rather than administrative, boundaries. They are defined by Natural England, the UK government’s advisors on the natural environment.

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. Revised profiles for all 159 NCAs were published in September 2014. The new NCAs are being published in a rolling program and can be found on the Natural England website.

NCAs are areas that share similar landscape characteristics, and which follow natural lines in the landscape rather than administrative boundaries, making them a good decision-making framework for the natural environment. National Character Area profiles are guidance documents which can help communities to inform their decision-making about the places that they live in and care for. The information they contain will support the planning of conservation initiatives at a landscape scale, inform the delivery of nature improvement areas and encourage broader partnership working through local nature partnerships. The profiles will also help to inform choices about how land is managed and can change.

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