Natural England announces historic new program for protected landscapes

Natural England announces today (Thursday 24 June) proposals for new protected areas across England, as well as an ambitious and historic program to examine how more areas could benefit from landscape improvements and offer more to people and nature.

Under these proposals, four areas will be considered for greater protection, with the potential to provide over 40% of the additional 4,000 km2 needed to meet the Prime Minister’s commitment to protect 30% of our land from here. 2030 for nature. They will also help deliver on the government’s commitment to further protect England’s beautiful and iconic landscapes for future generations, as outlined in its 10 Point Plan for a Green Revolution.

Spread across the country, the areas considered for designation include:

  • Yorkshire Wolds AONB – a tranquil landscape of rolling hills, valleys and open plateaus interspersed with ancient forests, chalk streams, farms and historic villages, stretching north of the River Humber.
  • Cheshire Sandstone Ridge AONB – a diverse, distinctive and famous landscape located in the heart of Cheshire, close to the great populations of the North West of England, rich in heritage, archeology, wildlife and culture.
  • An extension of the Surrey Hills AONB – to consider including areas of high scenic quality including limestone meadows, parks and historic features adjacent to the existing AONB.
  • An extension of the Chilterns AONB – to take into account many special features including chalk streams, magnificent beech groves, native forests and rolling hills rich in wildflowers, bringing nature closer to the people of North London.

Today’s announcement also follows up on the recommendations of the major independent review – directed by writer Julian Glover – in our protected landscapes. Natural England welcomed the review which presented a compelling vision for more beautiful, more biodiverse and more accessible national parks and AONBs. He warned that challenges such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and a changing urban society mean new approaches are needed to make the most of England’s most beloved landscapes.

In response to the review’s calls for bold action, and in addition to proposals for two new AONBs and extensions of two existing AONBs, Natural England will consider proposals for new national nature reserves. It will also implement a more collaborative and expeditious process for new national park and AONB designations.

Natural England has also expressed its ambition to develop new approaches that will promote nature recovery and improve people’s connection with nature, focusing in particular in and around cities. The program will focus on improving people’s quality of life, addressing inequalities in access and connection to the natural environment that have been well demonstrated by the Covid pandemic. This could include building on the idea of ​​’national park cities’, focusing nature restoration on where people live.

Natural England President Tony Juniper said:

There is no denying the many benefits that our protected landscapes bring – from improving our well-being, providing places to live and work for communities, to the crucial role in nature restoration and conservation. fight against the climate emergency.

I am delighted to see that the growth and protection of these areas is an increasingly important government priority. I look forward to working closely with Defra, National Parks England and the National Association for AONBs to make these special areas richer in nature, accessible to all to connect for their well-being and to ensure a green recovery of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also announced today, a strategic and visionary map for ‘England in the 21st Century’ will be developed, reflecting the spirit of the ‘Hobhouse Map’ which led to the creation of the first national parks 70 years ago.

To create this England-wide assessment, Natural England will work with stakeholders and communities to identify conservation needs across England, including any remaining places suitable for future national park designation or AONB and places where alternative forms of action will be more appropriate and are desired. by local communities.

Nature England is also transforming its joint work with National Parks England and the National Association for AONBs, through a new delivery agreement. It will bring about a radical change in the co-delivery of multiple and integrated benefits for people, nature and climate across England’s most beautiful landscapes.

Today the Environment Secretary to present government support for improving nature recovery and public access to national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty ahead of a consultation on the draft proposals later this year. The declaration will also showcase a new program of agriculture in protected landscapes to help farmers and other land managers improve their landscapes and create prosperous destinations for communities. As the government’s statutory landscape advisor, proposals for new designations will be presented by Natural England, which will also support the new program for farmers in protected landscapes.

Natural England is the statutory landscape adviser to the government in England, with duties and powers to conserve and improve landscapes which include the designation of national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. The designation process is likely to take several years and will be a collaborative process including local stakeholders at every step.

These new landscape designation areas were selected through an evidence-based assessment from proposals made to Natural England over the past 10 years.

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Douglas Mackenzie

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