Corporate report

Natural England designations programme for areas, sites and trails

Find out which areas, sites and trails Natural England is considering for special protection.



This document shows the areas, sites and trails that Natural England is considering in its designations programme. Inclusion in the programme is not a commitment to designate.

The designations programme considers whether places are suitable to become:

  • National Parks
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
  • Natura 2000 sites (Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas)
  • Ramsar sites
  • Marine Conservation Zones
  • National Nature Reserves (NNRs)
  • National Trails

When the formal process begins on a case it’s taken off the designations programme list at the next planned update, for example when:

  • notifying an SSSI
  • declaring an NNR
  • launching a formal consultation, such as a potential Special Protection Area (pSPA)

Information about cases in the formal process are available from:

Find out more about the designations programme in Natural England’s designation strategy.

Designated areas, sites and trails are mostly privately owned. Natural England works closely with landowners and other stakeholders:

  • when assessing whether a place is nationally important
  • following designation to support continued high quality management

Designated places represent England’s finest landscapes and very best wildlife and geological sites on land and in the sea. They:

  • provide opportunities for people to experience and enjoy some of our most spectacular and beautiful land and seascapes
  • safeguard vital elements of our natural and cultural heritage
  • provide people with essential services like clean water, climate regulation, beautiful places for recreation, and opportunities to learn about nature
  • are parts of living and functional landscapes, continuing to adapt and change within this wider context
  • form a national asset

These functions of designated places help to put Natural England’s and the government’s plans into action. These include:

Published 13 April 2016
Last updated 15 September 2020 + show all updates
  1. The list of areas, sites and trails has been updated.

  2. Added link to the declaration documents for the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB extension.

  3. Natural England's designations programme for 2018.

  4. First published.