Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty renamed as National Landscapes

post image

All designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (often shortened to AONB) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are now known as National Landscapes (Welsh: Tirweddau Cenedlaethol). Scotland uses a separate designation and system.

What is a National Landscape?

A National Landscape is one of 46 areas safeguarded in the national interest for their distinctive character and beauty. There are 33 in England, 4 in Wales, 1 on the England – Wales border and 8 in Northern Ireland. The first AONB was established in 1956 on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. These areas are cared for by local teams with a deep understanding of the interconnecting factors that make these places special. The areas range from coasts and heathland to hills and river valleys. Just like National Parks, they are the perfect starting point for an adventure! Well-known examples of National Landscapes include the Cotswolds, Isle of Wight, Anglesey, Wye Valley, Causeway Coast and Mourne Mountains.

Why the change?

In 2019, an extensive review of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks was published. The review included the recommendation that AONBs were rebranded as National Landscapes to strengthen them with new purposes, powers and resources. The government responded to the Glover Landscapes Review and agreed that the national significance of AONBs should be reflected in their name. In November 2023, the AONBs adopted this new name and all are currently in the process of rebranding. This rebranding as National Landscapes brings them in line with National Parks. The shift should also enable additional funding sources and bring an increase in the profile of these beautiful areas. The legal designation is still Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The name National Landscape simply highlights their national significance.

What is the purpose of a National Landscape?

The legal purpose is 'to conserve and enhance the beauty of the area'. In reality, these places are living communities; feeding the nation, protecting nature and climate and providing opportunities for the whole nation to make wonderful memories on a visit. National Landscapes own no land themselves. They work with partners such as farmers, landowners, district and parish councils, as well as organisations like the RSPB and National Trust to coordinate work across the area.

Who is in charge of the National Landscape?

The area itself is an area on a map. The National Landscapes team work with the partners to coordinate conservation and enhancement of the area on behalf of local authorities, with whom the legal responsibility sits. The team's work is governed by the National Landscape Partnership Board / Conservation Board.

How is a National Landscape protected?

National Landscapes are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). They are 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.

Please see for further information.

For more information (or free advice) please feel free to give us a call on 01782 849346 or email and we’re always happy to help.

The UK Tourism Online Team