Designation and Purpose

Landscape view of a river

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), also known as a National Landscape, is an area that is recognised by the United Kingdom government as having national importance. This importance is reflected in its designation under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act (1949).

The primary purpose of the designation is to conserve and enhance natural beauty. In pursuing the primary purpose of the designation, account should be taken of the needs of agriculture, forestry and other rural industries and of the economic and social needs of local communities.

Particular regard should be paid to promoting sustainable forms of social and economic development that in themselves conserve and enhance the environment.

Recreation is not an objective of the designation, but the demand for recreation should be met insofar as this is consistent with the conservation of natural beauty and the needs of agriculture, forestry and other uses.

The purposes of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are defined as:

  1. Conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ensuring they can meet the challenges of the future;
  2. Support the economic and social well-being of local communities in ways which contribute to the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty;
  3. Promote public understanding and enjoyment of the nature and culture of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and encourage people to take action for their conservation;
  4. Value, sustain and promote the benefits that the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty provide for society, including clean air and water, food, carbon storage and other services vital to the nation’s health and wellbeing.