Future of AONBs takes a step in the right direction

Ambitious proposals to strengthen our protected landscapes have been announced on Saturday 15th January 2022 when the Government published their response to the Landscapes Review of National Parks and AONBs.

Corfe Castle (c) Nigel Gidney

Plans to boost nature recovery and safeguard England’s iconic national parks for future generations have been set out by Environment Secretary George Eustice.

The proposals, which will be subject to consultation, are set out in the Government’s response to Julian Glover’s independent Landscapes Review (known as the ‘Glover Review’) which looked at whether the protections for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are still fit for purpose.

The Government’s response sets out ambitious changes to increase access to nature and ensure protected landscapes can deliver more for climate, nature, people and places for the next 70 years and beyond, as we build back greener from the pandemic and level up all parts of the country.

The 12-week consultation will also ask for views on proposals to drive nature recovery within our landscapes and support for the communities that live and work within them, such as the design and delivery of new agri-environment schemes and an ambitious management plan for each area.

Purbeck heathland, part of nature recovery project in Dorset (c) Gareth James

Tom Munro, Dorset AONB Team Manager, welcomed the publication of the response and is pleased to see that protected landscapes are recognised and valued:

“This response to the Glover Review provides an opportunity to set the future approach to Protected Landscapes and their management and enable us to address some tough challenges, especially around nature and climate. The vision espoused by Julian Glover and his panel in the Landscapes Review was far reaching, and this response is a good first step in the right direction to realising that vision. There is still lots of detail to work up and we look forward to helping Defra with that during the coming months.”

The Dorset AONB Team will be working with the National Association for AONBs to develop a detailed response during the consultation period on behalf of the network of 46 AONBs across the UK and the Dorset AONB Partnership will also prepare a Dorset-focused response. Sign up to the Dorset AONB e-news or check social media for updates.

You can find the full Government response and details on how to respond to consultation (which ends on 9th April 2022) on the Gov.uk website

Enjoying being in nature (c) Steph Aburrow

What is the ‘Glover Review’?

In May 2018 the government asked for an independent review into whether the protections for National Parks and AONBs are still fit for purpose. In particular, what might be done better, what changes will help and whether the definitions and systems in place are still valid.

The review’s final report was published on 21 September 2019. It was led by Julian Glover and supported by an experienced advisory group: Lord Cameron of Dillington, Jim Dixon, Sarah Mukherjee, Dame Fiona Reynolds and Jake Fiennes.

Proposal 24 of the Review called for “AONBs (to be) strengthened with new purpose, powers and resources, and re-named National Landscapes”. The NAAONB believes that there is a real potential with this proposal to:

  • significantly advance climate change mitigations
  • ramp up nature restoration
  • create many more opportunities for people, especially those currently underrepresented in the countryside, to make meaningful connections with nature in these national landscapes

The Dorset AONB Partnership were pleased to feature in the Glover Review report, with case studies showcasing good practice in habitat mapping, the Poole Harbour catchment initiative, volunteer engagement and building affordable homes.

Julian Glover, who led the Landscapes Review, in considering the response published in January 2022 said:

‘This is our chance to make England’s landscapes more beautiful, better for people who visit and live in them and far more alive with nature. Our countryside is there for all of us, but from the heaths of the New Forest to the high fells of the Lake District, it is under pressure in an urban world. It won’t be enough just to try to conserve what we have inherited – we can change the story from decline to recovery, to make them greener, more welcoming and full of hope. The review I led showed what needs to be done and I’m pleased the Government has agreed to act.”

You can find the 2019 Landscapes Review report on the Gov.uk website