Far from being sleepy backwaters, England’s finest landscapes contribute more than £20bn each year to our economy – similar to that of Birmingham, according to a new report.
The publication ‘So much more than the view…’ from England’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks, highlights the wide range of benefits these iconic areas provide to society.
Covering a quarter of England, National Parks and AONBs are our most beautiful and cherished landscapes, with iconic archaeological and historical sites and valuable wildlife habitats. Yet they provide so much more to society than a beautiful view.
More than two thirds of people in England live within half an hour’s travel of a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
AONBs and National Parks welcome more than 260 million visitors who spend in excess of £6bn and support thousands of jobs and more than 85,000 businesses.
Rightly regarded as a treasured national resource and internationally recognised for their special qualities, they provide a base for businesses that rely on a high quality environment; creative and sporting inspiration; homes for people and wildlife; food and drink; and life enhancing experiences for millions of visitors of all ages.
Environment Minister Rory Stewart said:
“Our British landscapes are among the most beautiful and precious in the world. And such land remains central to the British imagination, to our souls and to our identity.
We would miss such landscapes profoundly if they were gone. We have a deep obligation to protect this land, its farms and its communities.
This report also reminds us that safeguarding our countryside can also generate economic value, how our protected landscapes are increasingly rare in a rapidly developing world and just how precious they are to visitors and residents. However, while we celebrate the fact that they have also to potential to bring prosperity, we must never reduce such places simply to their economic value – they are so much more than that.”
Chair of the National Association for AONBs, Philip Hygate said:
“AONB Partnerships and Conservation Boards, and National Park Authorities, with their dedicated small teams, make things happen; translating vision and national policy into local action. “Our staff and volunteers work with local communities, businesses and others, supporting skills development, investing in infrastructure and attracting visitors to promote sustainable rural economies that conserve and enhance the natural environment for the benefit of everyone. Together our volunteers put in over half a million days’ work each year to help keep these places special and accessible.”
Chair of National Parks England and the North York Moors National Park Authority, Jim Bailey said:
“People are passionate about National Parks and AONBs and care deeply about their future. Those who visit, live or work within, these special landscapes, experience and enjoy the range of benefits that they provide for people and wildlife. They may not realise that these dynamic, living landscapes underpin the economy and the health and wellbeing of society and that all these benefits come at less than £1 per person a year.”
The publication also highlights the vital work that the AONB Partnerships and Conservation Boards and National Park Authorities undertake with local people and businesses to help keep these places special. They work to maintain thriving, living landscapes, where natural assets are conserved and enhanced and where people, businesses and communities can prosper, now and in the future.
You can see ‘So much more than the view…’ on-line at: More than the view