Skip to main content

About Us

Project Overview

The Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area (NIA) is one of 12 nationally important landscape scale wildlife schemes across England.

It is a partnership project within the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, with Devon Wildlife Trust as the NIA’s lead partner and at least 16 other project partners making active contributions to the project’s outcomes.

Working with local landowners and communities across the catchment of the river Torridge, the NIA is delivering an impressive and ambitious range of work to restore culm grassland and woodlands, create new wildlife habitat and improve water quality. Project staff and partners work closely with landowners and local people, to understand and celebrate the importance of the natural environment across an area of some 72,000 hectares stretching from Holsworthy and Okehampton to Bideford.

The NIA’s work will contribute to a better understanding of the services that nature provides for the local community of the Torridge catchment, including:

  • clean water
  • flood alleviation
  • woodfuel
  • wildlife
  • high quality food
  • tourism
  • wellbeing

We are working with communities in the 51 parishes across the NIA to garner participation from all sectors of the community. Our aspirations of achieving a wildlife-rich landscape that is ‘bigger, better, more and joined’ extend from wildlife habitat to the connections between people and the landscape.

The first phase of the NIA project runs for three years to March 2015. The partnership intends that the NIA’s work will continue for many decades to come, to deliver a sustainable, vibrant and healthy living landscape for the Torridge catchment. More....



The Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area project is led by Devon Wildlife Trust on behalf of the North Devon Biosphere Reserve. However, we have at least 16 organisations working as active partners in the project. Representatives of active project partners meet as the NIA Steering Group on a quarterly basis, and others contribute to the five NIA Forums, providing expertise and guidance on various aspects of the NIA’s work.

Over the period 2012-15, the partnership is working to share skills, expertise and resources to achieve as much towards the NIA’s ambitions as possible. The partnership is also working to develop the next phase of the project, post-2015.

The NIA currently enjoys the financial support of Defra as one of the twelve NIA projects selected for funding in 2012. This is matched at the local level by a number of project partners. Other organisations, such as Beaford Arts, are developing further strands of work for the future. In this way, the Northern Devon NIA is a developing, changing group of projects which are developed by and for the community of the Torridge catchment. More....


Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services are a way of identifying, describing and putting a value to all those functions nature provides for the community of the river Torridge catchment. For example, wet grasslands can act as a ‘sponge’ to soak up water in the upper reaches of a river catchment, controlling water flow and helping to prevent flooding downstream. Wildlife habitat can also help to clean pollutants from water and stabilise soils.

A wildlife-rich landscape is one of the bedrocks of the South West tourism industry. A healthy natural environment with high quality greenspace can make a great contribution to everyone’s quality of life, reducing illness and stress.

Part of the ambition of the Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area is to explore the value of ecosystem services to the local community. We are working with academics, local business and schools to investigate how this concept can be useful and how the NIA can contribute. More....