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Staffordshire :: National Character Areas
National Character Areas
To highlight conservation priorities England has been divided up into 159 National Character Areas based on wildlife, natural features and land use distributions. Where possible, the issues raised in these NCAs have been incorporated into the SBAP.
Staffordshire contains nearly all of one complete NCA (Potteries and Churnet Valley) and lesser parts of ten others. This reflects the high diversity of landscapes and wildlife habitats within the county. A map showing the NCA and SBAP Ecosystem Action Plan boundaries can be viewed here.

A brief summary of the main NCAs in Staffordshire can be seen below.
Cannock Chase and Cank Wood
The Midlands Plateau is a distinctive incised plateau of predominantly sedimentary rock 100m-300m above sea level marking the division in central England between southern lowland and northern upland, and demonstrating west-east transitions. The plateau is evident in the southern half of the county extending as far north as Stafford. It contains a significant amount of nationally important lowland heathland at Cannock Chase.
Mid Severn Sandstone Plateau
This area is found within the catchment of the Rivers Severn and Stour. Predominantly a rural landscape, characterised by intensively farmed arable fields with deteriorating hedgerows, this area was formerly dominated by heathland and native woodlands. In Staffordshire, the most notable remnant patch of heathland can be seen at Kinver. A high proportion of woodlands in this area are now made up of estate conifer plantations that have been combined with parklands. Native woodlands are generally found along valley bottoms.
Needwood and South Derbyshire Claylands
This rolling plateau is located half within Staffordshire and half in Derbyshire. The area within Staffordshire contains the remnants of the Needwood Forest. Parklands and wood-pasture make a locally significant contribution to the landscape and have veteran trees of considerable ecological value to fungi and invertebrates.
Potteries and Churnet Valley
Located within northern Staffordshire, this is a natural area of strong contrasts: the sprawling conurbation of the Potteries sandwiched between the wild landscape of the uplands around Biddulph to the north, the sheltered, wooded valleys and pastures of the Churnet Valley to the south-east, and the rural landscape of the Staffordshire/Cheshire plain to the south and west. Despite the considerable impact of industry, substantial areas of semi-natural habitat remain; principally in the steep sided valleys of the River Churnet and its tributaries. This natural area holds some of the richest sites for wildlife in Staffordshire.
Shropshire, Cheshire and Staffordfordshire Plain
This area covers most of Cheshire, the northern half of Shropshire and part of Staffordshire. The area within Staffordshire consists of a gently rolling plain dominated by intensive dairy farming, beef and arable production. At the end of the last ice age, glacial meltwater trapped by the surrounding hills and moraines caused the creation of large lakes (Meres) and peatlands (Mosses), many of which still survive today and include the internationally important Aqualate Mere.
South West Peak and White Peak
A large proportion of both of these areas is located within the Peak Park Planning Authority, which has prepared its own BAP.
The South West Peak is characterised by acidic soils dominated by moorland vegetation, whereas the White Peak consists of a gently rolling plateau dominated by meadows and pastureland enclosed by dry stone walls.
Trent Valley Washlands
Comprising the south-eastern border area of Staffordshire, this natural area produces fertile soil ideal for agriculture. Despite a large area being under intensive agriculture a number of important habitats still remain. These include neutral grassland, wet meadows, wet woodland, reservoirs, rivers and streams. There is also great scope to improve the quality of the land for wildlife in a strategic manner, for example restoring gravel pits and other mineral workings along the Trent catchment.
Needwood Forest
Species Rich Grassland
Walk Mill
Leek Moor SSSI