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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Local Nature Reserve

A Local Nature Reserve or LNR is a statutory designation made under Section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 by principal local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland, the powers of district councils to establish LNRs are contained in Article 22 of the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. Parish and town councils can also declare LNRs but they must have the powers to do so delegated to them by the principal local authority.

The first Local Nature Reserve was established in 1952 at Aberlady in East Lothian.

To establish an LNR the declaring local authority must first have a legal interest in the land concerned, for example, they could own it, lease it or have a nature reserve agreement with the owner. The land must lie within the area which the declaring authority controls.

LNRs are of local, but not necessarily national, importance. LNRs are almost always owned by local authorities, who often pass the management of the LNR onto County Wildlife trusts or other local environmental bodies. LNRs also often have good public access and facilities. An LNR can also be a Site of Special Scientific Interest, but often is not, or may have other designations (although an LNR cannot also be a National Nature Reserve). Except where the site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest there is no legal necessity to manage an LNR to any set standard, but management agreements often exist.

An LNR may be given protection against damaging operations. It also has certain protection against development on and around it. This protection is usually given via the Local Plan, (produced by the planning authority), and often supplemented by local by-laws. However there is no national legal protection specifically for LNRs.

They have their origin in the recommendations of the Wild Life Conservation Special Committee (Conservation of Nature in England and Wales, Command 7122, 1947) which established the framework for nature conservation in the United Kingdom and suggested a national suite of protected areas comprising National Nature Reserves, Conservation Areas (which incorporated suggestions for Sites of Special Scientific Interest), National Parks, Geological Monuments, Local Nature Reserves and Local Educational Nature Reserves. The National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act 1949 combined elements of several of these categories in its definition of a nature reserve (Section 15). The hope of the Special Committee was to see sites protected which represented sites of local scientific interest, which could be used by schools for field teaching and experiment, and in which people with no special interest in natural history could "...derive great pleasure from the peaceful contemplation of nature."

Information on LNRs is available from the Countryside Council for Wales (A Place for Nature at your Doorstep: the role of Local Nature Reserves, 2004), English Nature (Local Nature Reserves: places for people and wildlife, 2000) and Scottish Natural Heritage (Local Nature Reserves in Scotland: a guide to their selection and declaration, 2000).

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