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Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is exactly what it says it is: an outstanding landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so precious that it is safeguarded in the national interest. 

AONBs are…

Landscapes for Nature,

Landscapes for People,

Landscapes for Business,

Landscapes for Culture.

And did you know….

  • There are 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK.
  • AONBs cover about 18% of the UK countryside.
  • No other country in the world has Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – it is a uniquely British designation that belongs to a worldwide Protected Landscape Family.
  • AONBs protect some of the UK’s most important and sensitive habitats.
  • 66% of people live within ½ hr of an AONB.
  • Just over 1/5 of the English Coast is AONB.
  • Over 19,000km of footpaths and bridleways pass through AONBs including 10 National Trails.
  • AONBs store million of tonnes of CO2 each year staving off global warming.
  • AONBs are visited by millions of people each year but don’t be put off, with 23,301 sq km there is still plenty of space to quietly enjoy your visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an AONB?

An AONB is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

What is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is exactly what it says it is: an outstanding landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so precious that it is safeguarded in the national interest.

How can I find out more about my local AONB?

Please visit our interactive AONB map ​​​​to locate, and find out about the UK's 46 AONBs, from there you can find websites dedicated to each specific AONB. 

How is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) protected?

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is designated and thus protected under the 1949 National Parks and Access to Countryside Act. Its protection is further enhanced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000 (CRoW2000).

What is the 1949 National Parks and Access to Countryside Act?

This is an Act of Parliament passed in 1949 to conserve and enhance the most sensitive areas of the UK. It was passed as a result of the findings of two reports – The Hobhouse Report and The John Dower Report – that were commissioned to respond to the wish of the public to have access to land for recreation purposes.

How do I get an area of land, I care about, designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

Natural England (NE)Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) are responsible for formally designating AONBs and advising on policies for their protection. NE, NRW and NIEA act as national “watchdogs” over AONBs, to ensure that they are successfully conserved and enhanced.

I am concerned about inappropriate development in an AONB. What can I do?

You should contact the local AONB team to express your concerns - please select the AONB from the list on the left hand side of this page, or, visit our interactive AONB map to locate, and find out more about your local AONB and the team who look after it.

I’d like to go walking/cycling/riding in an AONB. How can I find our more information?

Please visit our interactive AONB map to locate, and find out about the UK's 46 AONBs, from there you can find the websites dedicated to each specific AONB. 

When I visit the countryside I like to stay in locally owned establishments and eat locally produced food. How can I find out more about this sort of thing in an AONB?

Please visit our interactive AONB map ​​​​​​​to locate, and find out about the UK's 46 AONBs, from there you can find the websites dedicated to each specific AONB. The specific websites are run by the local teams and contain all sorts of local information including events.