Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Renamed National Landscapes

22 Nov 2023

All designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England and Wales are becoming National Landscapes, including the Mendip Hills. The new name reflects their national importance; the vital contribution they make to protect the nation from the threats of climate change, nature depletion and the wellbeing crisis, whilst also creating greater understanding and awareness for the work that they do.

This is a significant milestone for the UK and the next step in fully realising the National Landscapes’ vision to be the leading exemplars of how thriving, diverse communities can work with and for nature in the UK: restoring ecosystems, providing food, storing carbon to mitigate the effects of climate change, safeguarding against drought and flooding, whilst also nurturing people’s health and wellbeing.

National Landscapes teams have been at the forefront of delivering natural solutions to the main challenges facing the nation for many years. The new brand underscores their commitment to redoubling their efforts and engaging with a wider audience. In 2019, teams set themselves the most ambitious targets for nature in the sector and continue to work to meet them.

By 2030, the Mendip Hills National Landscapes aim that, within their boundary: all Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) will have actions in place for achieving favourable condition, currently 58.7% of SSSIs in the National Landscape are in favourable condition, woodland cover will be raised from 14.5% woodland cover (2,869 hectares). Our target is to increase this by 351 hectares to 3,220 hectares by 2050 (16.3% tree cover) by planting the right trees in the right places. And the eight ‘champion species’ that have been chosen as indicators of a good habitat are recovering.

Because of their size and scope, National Landscapes are ideally positioned to address the environmental issues the UK is facing. There are 46 National Landscapes in the UK, covering 14% of England, Wales and Northern Ireland including moorland, farmland, coast, forests, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves, a Geopark and International Dark Sky Reserves. They are the UK’s nearby countryside - 66% of people in England (44 million) live within 30 minutes of a National Landscape and at least 170 million people visit them every year.

Jim Hardcastle, Mendip Hills National Landscape Manager said, 
“We have a new name and logo that shows the national importance of the Mendip Hills, but this is still the same beautiful place where people live and work and come to breathe. The new name should grab people's attention and remind them how important the area is if they've lived in the area for years or if they know the place like the back of their hand. And if they've never visited, we look forward to welcoming them and sharing our love of Mendip. There's always more on Mendip!”

John Watkins, Chief Executive of the National Landscapes Association says:
“For decades, AONB teams have convened powerful partnerships which have placed them at the forefront of the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, but since their initial designation, our country has changed immensely, as have the needs and pressures on the environment and communities. However, we have great ambition as well as the commitment and readiness to care for and protect these important places, whilst also extending a welcome to more people. Our ambitious aims build on AONB teams’ long track record of successful delivery for nature and people and we are confident that we will achieve them. National Landscapes are the landscape designation for the 21 Century and beyond.”

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England says: 
“For decades the AONBs have helped protect the beauty of our finest landscapes. Today though we need so much more from these wonderful places, helping us adapt to climate change, catching carbon, restoring depleted wildlife and encouraging more people outside, at the same time as producing food, sustaining local communities and enhancing historic environments. 
“Modern challenges require new approaches and today marks the beginning of a new phase for our National Landscapes, as they strengthen their existing partnerships, and forge new ones that will secure in perpetuity the huge range of benefits that come from these special places. Big change has taken place during the past 75 years and bigger changes still can be expected during the decades ahead. Uniting the National Landscapes in this way is very welcome and spells immense opportunity and great hope for the future.”
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Renamed National Landscapes
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