How AONB’s work

AONBs are living landscapes inhabited by lively communities of people. So, the care of AONBs is entrusted to local authorities, organisations, community groups and the people who live and work within them. AONB teams bring these people together, working collectively to conserve and enhance these special landscapes.

Each AONB has a management plan which is reviewed every five years, and an AONB partnership which creates the management plan and oversees the work of the AONB. Within an AONB, the relevant local authority is charged with ensuring development and planning proposals take into account the aim to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area.

AONBs and National Parks

AONBs enjoy levels of protection similar to those of UK National Parks but unlike National Parks, the responsible bodies do not have their own planning authority.

AONB Family

The Blackdown Hills is one of 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 34 of which are in England. The National Association for AONBs supports the work of AONB partnerships and provides a strong collective voice.


In England, Natural England is responsible for designating Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, under the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000.

AONB designation and management in England

Origins Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have their origins in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949. As part of the reconstruction of the UK after the second world war, the Act improved access to the countryside, addressed public rights of way, and provided the framework for the creation of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales.

Protected landscapes worldwide

While AONBs are a uniquely British phenomenon, they are recognised internationally by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as part of a global family of protected areas.

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