Environment Minister, Rory Stewart, has welcomed plans to enhance the UK’s natural landscapes through closer ties between the National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) and National Parks England (NPE) at a conference today to celebrate the most beautiful parts of our country.

The signing of an accord between the two organisations will see them work together to raise awareness of the value of our world class Protected Landscapes and the benefits for public health. By creating closer ties the organisations can also share their local knowledge, marketing and conservation expertise, potentially giving a further boost to the £11 billion already generated from rural tourism each year.

Commenting on the importance of developing economic opportunities for rural communities through the conservation of our heritage and natural landscapes, Environment Minister Rory Stewart said:

“Our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks are vital to rural life. They protect and care for some of our most cherished landscapes. I am delighted that these two organisations will now be working even more closely together.

“It’s vital we protect the distinctive character and natural beauty of our stunning landscapes, from the evocative heathland of the Somerset Quantocks to the patchwork pastures of the Howardian Hills in North Yorkshire, so they can continue to be treasured by future generations.

“I congratulate our AONBs and National Parks for coming together to combine their efforts to keep our connection with the character of our natural landscapes as rich and rewarding as it always has been.”

National Parks and specific AONBs take in a huge variety of landscapes from mountain tops to coastal estuaries, with their managing bodies working to protect their innate beauty, and deliver economic benefits for their local rural communities.

There are 46 AONBs in the UK, covering 18% of our countryside. Our 15 National Parks cover over 36% of England, Wales and Scotland, generating over £4bn every year and bringing 90 million visitors to enjoy our countryside each year. Both of these spaces play a vital role in connecting people with nature for our health and wellbeing. This is a key priority for the government as set out in its vision for an Open Environment which puts inspiring and improving our children’s understanding of nature at the forefront of our work to promote the countryside.

The conference to promote these protected spaces also comes just weeks after the Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss announced that an additional 188 square miles of land across Cumbria and Lancashire will be protected, following the decision to extend two of England’s most iconic National Parks the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District.

Print Friendly and PDF