Natural England - Why declare Local Nature Reserves?

Why declare Local Nature Reserves?

By declaring Local Nature Reserves (LNRs), local authorities can provide many benefits for both people and wildlife.


  • increase people's awareness and enjoyment of their natural environment

  • provide an ideal environment for everyone to learn about and study nature

  • help to build relationships with national and local nature conservation organisations and local people

  • protect wildlife habitats and natural features

  • provide a great opportunity for people to become involved in managing their local environment

  • offer a positive use for land which they would prefer was left undeveloped

  • make it possible to apply bye-laws which can help in managing and protecting the site.

In addition, because Local Nature Reserve is a statutory designation, it is a very clear signal to a local community of the local authority's commitment to nature conservation.

LNRs can also help local authorities meet Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) and sustainable development targets.

LNRs are one way to provide Greenspace, particularly in urban areas.

Natural England recommends to local authorities that LNRs should be:

  • greater than 2ha in size,

  • capable of being managed with the conservation of nature and the maintenance of special opportunities for study, research or enjoyment of nature as the main concern;

We also recommend that there should be 1ha of Local Nature Reserve space per 1000 people in England.

LNRs should be either:

  • of high natural interest in the local context, or

  • of some reasonable natural interest and of high value in the local context for formal education or research, or

  • of some reasonable natural interest and of high value in the local context for the informal enjoyment of nature by the public.