The much anticipated Review of England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) was published on Saturday 21 September. Over a year in the making, writer and Government Advisor Julian Glover led a ‘once in a generation’ appraisal of how these iconic landscapes can be better protected to reverse the decline in nature and benefit more people.
The review warns that new challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and a changing, urban society mean that new approaches are needed to enhance England’s most-loved landscapes. The central proposition that AONBs are strengthened with new purposes, powers and resources, and renamed as National Landscapes, is a powerful and fundamentally important step in ensuring the benefits of the AONB designation are optimised.
Key themes include that more must be done to restore nature and to reach out to wider society, regardless of age or cultural background. One key proposal is that every schoolchild in England should get the opportunity to “spend a night under the stars”, offering children an opportunity to engage with nature, provide a positive experience and become a landscape ambassador.
Mike Goodman, Acting Chairman of the Surrey Hills AONB Board comments; “I am pleased the Review acknowledges that some AONBs have far greater development and recreation pressures than many of the remoter National Parks. The Surrey Hills AONB Board welcomes the recommendations for much-needed additional funding and a greater say on development in AONBs. We very much look forward to working together with our National Parks under a new National Landscapes Service to help deliver the Government’s 25 year Environment Plan.”
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers has commented on the review; “We think it’s an excellent report and we’re going to be carefully considering its recommendations. There are a lot of great ideas which are consistent with our determination to remedy the disastrous loss of biodiversity and nature habits we’ve experienced in this country over recent years.”
Ms Villiers also said that Mr Glover’s idea to have school visits to protected landscapes echoes the government’s aims.
For a full copy of the Landscapes Review visit; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/designated-landscapes-national-parks-and-aonbs-2018-review