Environment secretary Caroline Spelman announced 12 zones that will share a grant of £7.5m from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The money will be used to create wildlife havens, restore habitats and increase community involvement with nature.
Twelve sites were chosen from 76 applications.
Projects range from planting 10,000 trees and restoring wetlands, to creating a seven-hectare saline lagoon. Work on the approved projects will start next month.
The 12 NIAs will be:
Birmingham and the Black Country Living Landscape
Dearne Valley Green Heart
Greater Thames Marshes
Meres and Mosses of the Marches
Morecambe Bay Limestones and Wetlands
South Downs Way Ahead
The Nature Improvement Areas were a flagship policy in the environment white paper The Natural Choice, published by the government last year. It aims to improve natural environments across England, halt the decline in species and connect people with nature.
Caroline Spelman said: "The wildlife projects are the result of different organisations working together with a common purpose: to safeguard our wildlife for generations to come."
Professor Sir John Lawton, who led the panel judging the applications, said: "We have 12 outstanding NIAs, each unique in what it is setting out to achieve for the benefits of people and wildlife."