National Nature Reserves (NNRs) were established to protect some of our most important habitats, species and geology, and to provide ‘outdoor laboratories’ for research. Most NNRs offer great opportunities to schools, specialist interest groups and the public to experience wildlife at first hand and to learn more about nature conservation.
There are currently 224 NNRs in England with a total area of over 94,400 hectares - approximately 0.7% of the country’s land surface. The largest is The Wash covering almost 8,800 hectares, while Dorset’s Horn Park Quarry is the smallest at 0.32 hectares. See:
details of the reserves and their special features in the county lists
Natural England manages about two thirds of England’s NNRs. The remaining reserves are managed by organisations approved by Natural England, for example, the National Trust, Forestry Commission, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and local authorities.
NNR partnership strategy: find out about the managing partners’ joint approach that puts NNRs at the heart of 21st century conservation.
Natural England issues a public notice when an NNR is created, extended or has a change of management.
Visit a National Nature Reserve
Natural England welcomes all visitors to the reserves they manage - they are free to enter.
Most NNRs have some form of access and many have extensive path networks and access land. Some NNRs are difficult to access because they are remote, have rugged terrain or sensitive habitats.
Follow the Countryside Code and respect any special notices at the reserve regarding dogs or sensitive habitats.
Research opportunities for further education students
Dissertations and similar projects provide students with opportunities to work on high quality sites and to contribute to the research and management of Natural England’s NNRs. See the list of topic titles available for study.