What is a National Landscape?

A National Landscape is one of 46 areas within England, Wales and Northern Ireland safeguarded in the national interest for its distinctive character and beauty. The legal designation is 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'.

What is the purpose of a National Landscape?

The legal purpose is 'to conserve and enhance the beauty of the area'. In reality these places are living communities, they feed the nation, protect nature and climate and provide opportunities for the whole nation to make memories with loved ones, and breathe!

So, are you major landowners?

No. National Landscapes own no land themselves. They work with their partners (farmers, landowners, district and parish councils, organisations like RSPB and National Trust) to coordinate work across the whole area.

Who is in charge of the National Landscape?

The area itself is an area on a map. The National Landscapes team work with partners to coordinate conservation and enhancement of the area on behalf of local authorities, with whom legal responsibility sits. The team's work is governed by the National Landscape Partnership Board/Conservation Board.

Who decides what work is done?

On behalf of the Local Authorities in which the National Landscape sits, the National Landscape team carries out a consultation every 5 years. Anyone can input into this, stating what they think should be prioritised. The team then prepares a Management Plan to guide their work for the next 5 years.

How do I visit?

Find out a little bit more and then come and have a look around! National Landscapes are beautiful, living places so you don't book or pay on any gate. You can come and enjoy a cup of tea in a cafe, go for a walk, birdwatch, bring a picnic, get pampered in a hotel or B&B. Come and explore!

You're funded by the taxpayer. What do you do?

The work National Landscapes teams do is important. Between the National Landscapes, peatland twice the size of Birmingham has been restored, storing millions of tonnes of carbon and helping reduce the risk of flooding. Many thousands of hectares of habitat have been restored for nature.

I've never heard of a National Landscape or an AONB!

You will definitely know some of the iconic places in National Landscapes: one of the most famous British paintings - the Haywain by John Constable is in Dedham Vale National Landscape, Cheddar Gorge is in Mendip Hills National Landscape and Pendle Hill is in Forest of Bowland National Landscape.

How can I find out more about my local National Landscape?

Please visit our interactive map ​​​​to locate, and find out more about the UK's 46 National Landscapes, for more detail you can follow the link to your local National Landscape's own website.

Why have you changed the name to National Landscape?

The legal designation is still Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The name 'National Landscape' really highlights their national significance.

How is a National Landscape protected?

National Landscapes are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - they are protected under the 1949 National Parks and Access to Countryside Act. Its protection is further enhanced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000 (CRoW2000).

What is the 1949 National Parks and Access to Countryside Act?

This is an Act of Parliament passed in 1949 to conserve and enhance the most sensitive areas of the UK. It was a result of the findings of The Hobhouse Report and The John Dower Report – that were commissioned to respond to the wish of the public to have access to land for recreation purposes.

How do I get an area of land I care about designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Northern Ireland Environment Agency are responsible for formally designating AONB and advising on policies for their protection. NE, NRW and NIEA act as national “watchdogs” over National Landscapes.

I am concerned about inappropriate development in an AONB. What can I do?

You should contact the local National Landscapes team to express your concerns - please select the AONB from the list on the left hand side of this page, or, visit our interactive AONB map to locate, and find out more about your local AONB and the team who look after it.

I’d like to go walking/cycling/riding in a National Landscape. How can I find our more information?

Please visit our interactive National Landscapes map to locate, and find out about the UK's 46 National Landscapes, from there you can find the websites dedicated to each specific AONB.

How can I find out more about locally owned establishments and producers in an National Landscape?

Please visit our interactive National Landscape map ​​​​​​​to locate, and find out about the UK's 46 National Landscapes, from there you can find websites dedicated to each are. The websites are run by the local teams and contain all sorts of local information including events.

(c) Lorna Rees Dorset NL - Landscapes For Life Festival (c) Lorna Rees