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Conservation in the United Kingdom

This page gives an overview of the complex structure of environmental and cultural conservation in the United Kingdom.

With the advent of devolved government for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and of evolving regional government for England, the responsibilities for environment and conservation in the United Kingdom have become more complicated.[weasel words][how?]

There follows a list of the legislation, conservation bodies (both governmental and otherwise), and conservation designations, which work together to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the UK. A list of 'objects of conservation' provides further links.



Conservation bodiesEdit

Government departmentsEdit

Governmental bodiesEdit

The following are Executive Agencies of the UK government and regional executives, with note on their areas of responsibility.

United KingdomEdit

England and ScotlandEdit




  • Cadw — cultural and built heritage
  • Natural Resources Wales (NRW) (formerly Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission Wales and Environment Agency Wales) — protection of landscapes and rural countryside, regulation of waterways, pollution, waste management

Northern IrelandEdit

Non-governmental organisationsEdit

Conservation designationsEdit

National parksEdit

Areas designated by government agenciesEdit

The following designations are established or monitored by the executive agencies listed above.

Designation Abbreviation Country Agency
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty AONB England Natural England
Wales CCW
Northern Ireland NIEA
Environmentally sensitive area ESA England Natural England
Heritage coast England Natural England
Wales CCW
Marine nature reserve MNR
National nature reserve NNR England Natural England
Scotland SNH
Wales CCW
Northern Ireland NIEA
National Scenic Area NSA Scotland SNH
Nitrate vulnerable zone NVZ England Environment Agency
Scheduled monument SAM England English Heritage
Scotland Historic Scotland
Wales Cadw
Northern Ireland NIEA
Site of Special Scientific Interest SSSI England Natural England
Scotland SNH
Wales CCW
Northern Ireland NIEA
Special landscape area SLA Wales CCW

Other United Kingdom conservation designationsEdit

International conservation designationsEdit

Other United Kingdom conservation policiesEdit

Objects of conservationEdit

See alsoEdit