Thursday, 23 June 2011

Sign Up to Put Nature on the Map

The IUCN and Middlemarch Environmental are inviting organisations to make their pledge to ‘Putting Nature on the Map’ in a special sign up event on Monday 27th June.

Amongst the organisations participating will be the Government nature conservation agencies in all four countries (Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Department of Environment Northern Ireland), as well as key NGOs including the Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust, Wildfowl and Wetland Trust and RSPB.
The aim of the project is to raise the profile of protected areas with the public, defining and mapping all the areas in the UK that are protected for nature, using interactive computer technology.

As a result of data being combined in one place, it will provide better information for land use strategies, especially in relation to climate change, provide easier access to data for reporting on the UK’s protected areas and will allow everyone interested in nature to find out about all the protected areas near them.

Howard Davies, CEO of the National Association for AONBs, adds that the “local governance, national protection and current international recognition of AONBs and National Parks makes them key players in an international approach to nature conservation, including the delivery of local, national, and international targets.” Nigel Stone, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, notes that places such as National Parks, “valued for their spectacular landscapes and the wildlife and cultural heritage”, have a “central role in nationwide programmes to link up important habitats for wildlife so that species can more easily extend their ranges and migrate in response to anticipated changes in climate.”

These values and the importance of AONBs, National Parks and other protected areas will be clearly demonstrated through mapping such areas across the UK.

The project will help the UK achieve its international obligations agreed at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan last October and aid in the delivery of plans outlined in the government Natural Environment White Paper as well as addressing issues recently published in UK Ecosystem Assessment.
Chris Mahon, Chair of IUCN UK Committee said: “Putting Nature on the Map is a key priority for us, enabling the UK to share our wealth of conservation knowledge with the public and with the rest of the world. I’m delighted with the progress that our working group of experts and Middlemarch Environmental have made in developing a UK Handbook, which we hope all organisations managing protected areas will now use to bring all of their data into a common format. By the time the project ends in September 2011, the UK will have its first comprehensive digital and mapped record of protected areas of land and sea.”

Roger Crofts, Chairman of The Sibthorp Trust and an Emeritus of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas said that “With one leap we will place the UK’s most special places for nature on a worldwide accessible database and bring these places to the attention of the UK public so that they can be proud of their natural heritage.”
The Putting Nature on the Map project is organised by a group of experts in the IUCN UK National Committee with financial support from the Sibthorp Trust, Natural England, and the John Muir Trust. The project involves close collaboration with the Cambridge-based UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP/WCMC) and IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas is being carried out by environmental consultancy Middlemarch Environmental Ltd.

The information collated during Putting Nature on the Map will be included in the World Database on Protected Areas housed at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge and available to everyone over the internet at Thanks to new on-line tools, any future updates will be added to the database as soon as they happen, so the impact of a new nature reserve can be seen on a world scale.

For further information please contact Middlemarch Environmental’s project manager Helen Miller on 07738 488357 or email