Regional Overview of Management Plans

Regional Commitments

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Protected Landscape Management Plans Database

Management plans are widely recognized as a vital tool for effective management of our protected landscapes. All Areas of Outstanding Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks in the South West have management plans. The Plans:

  • Highlight the special qualities and the enduring significance of the protected areas,
  • Present an integrated vision for the future of the designated area as a whole, in the light of national, regional and local priorities,
  • Set out agreed policies incorporating specific objectives which will help secure that vision,
  • Identify what needs to be done, by whom, and when, in order to achieve these outcomes,
  • State how the condition of the protected area and the effectiveness of its management will be monitored.

Between 2007-2009 all AONB and National Park Management Plans have undergone a review process - The following database provides access to a summary of the 12 AONB and 2 National Park Management Plans and links to the online documents themselves. We have also developed a regional overview setting out  the commom management plan objectives and actions. From this overview we have identified the critical policy commitments contained within the Management Plans. Delivery on these commitments by 2014 would represent a significant investment in the natural and historic assets of the South West region.

Regional Overview of Management Plans in the South West

Conserving and enhancing the special qualities of our protected landscape areas

South West England is renowned for the richness, distinctiveness and diversity of the landscape. Striking sequences of landscape quality can be found in close proximity in our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks. the special qualities of these protected areas include:

  • Dramatic and impressive stretches of rugged coastline and wooded estuaries
  • Large areas of open moorland
  • Expanses of heathland, chalk downland and limestone grassland
  • Historic enclosure landscapes
  • Pastoral landscapes that have retained pattern of small fields, hedges, hedgebanks and dry stone walls
  • Distinctive settlement patterns
  • Architecturally rich hamlets, villages and market towns bulilt in a variety of local materials, including: Killas, Granite, sandstone, cob and thatch
  • Rich biodiversity assets
  • Large estates, parklands, commons – a continuity of landscape management
  • Remote spaces mostly free of intrusive development, uninterrupted panoramic views , areas of tranquility and dark skies
  • A complex and rich historic landscape shaped by centuries of maritime and arming activity, architectural appeal and interest
  • Cultural distinctive communities, traditions and a rich legacy of artistic, cultural and industrial associations
  • A  resource that inspires and provides economic and social benefits


The Forces for Change faced by our protected areas

Landscape is constantly changing - the result of natural and human actions and activities. The forces driving changing landscapes have been identified by the AONB and National Park Management Plans, these include:

Force for Change

Impact on AONBs/NPs

Climate Change/ Breakdown

A primary area of concern for landscape managers - both in terms of impact on natural processes and in how communities choose to respond to climate breakdown.

Adaptation measures (e.g. flood alleviation schemes, managed coastal retreat) and mitigation measures (e.g. increased woodland planting, renewable energy schemes) all have consequences for landscape.  The actions implemented to mitigate against and adapt to climate change, as well as the impacts themselves, will greatly influence other future forces for change.

The challenge is to build resilience into our landscapes.

Globalised - Market-Driven Forces

Land management is increasingly subject to the whims of the global marketplace. Complex and shifting forces; world wheat prices, demand for biofuels, the price of finite resources, play out in our rural landscape.

The evolution of the global economy can unfold in many ways; from increased global commodity trading to market failure and increasing need for self reliance. What we know is that our local, regional and national economies are largely dependent on factors determined globally.

Increasing Demands - Population & Development

There is widespread agreement that demands on land are greater than ever – demands to provide a wide range of goods and services are growing from energy to food to flood alleviation to recreation.

Development pressure is a key force for change in the region. The targets for population growth in the Regional Spatial Strategy challenge the protected landscapes to conserve and enhance landscapes whilst providing the housing and infrastructure that a growing population needs.

Policy Shifts

Further reform of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy, new EU Directives and the end of ‘classic’ agri-environment schemes will all impact on the viability of traditional land management practices.

Defra-driven policies and approaches will strengthen a drive for multi-purpose landscapes delivering a range of ‘goods and services’.  Farmers may in future be paid for the full range of services that their land management practices deliver (e.g flood alleviation, recreation).

Social Changes

An increasingly ageing population of farmers brings further uncertainty to the land-based industries. Increased mechanisation hastens the loss of the traditional practical skills base that in turn results in the loss of boundary features through time/skills deficit.

Recreation & Tourism

The region already attracts some 26 million visitors a year, attracted by the landscape’s scenic beauty and cultural assets. The trend to more active modes of outdoor enjoyment can pose conflicts with those seeking 'quiet' enjoyment.

A political shift toward greater local involvement in decision making and delivery

Government rhetoric promotes greater participation in decision-making and shifts to local empowerment as witnessed in Local Strategic Partnerships.

AONB Partnerships and National Park Authorities are well placed to build on this shift and increase their contribution as local delivey agents.

Continued loss of wildlife sites/assets

The South West has the largest area of semi-natural habitat of any English region. Less than half of this habitat is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). A disproportionate number of bird species are dependent on a small number of well managed sites. We need to “stop the rot, conserve the best and enhance the rest".

Continued neglect of historic assets

The region has 7,000, or one third, of England’s scheduled monuments. English Heritage surveys show that some 57% (3988 monuments) are at risk from damage, decay or loss. Arable farming and erosion by livestock are the two most significant threats to heritage assets, see: SW heritage at risk.

Cumulative impacts of small scale changes and the suburbanisation of rural development

The cumulative impacts of the small, seemingly innocuous developments that, when taken together, can slowly erode the special and distinctive qualities of protected landscapes.

For more information on forces for change see:

The SW Regional Landscapes Partnership - Future Landscapes a technical report by Land Use Consultants for Natural England. The report looks at forces for landscape change in the South West and identifies 10 possible project responses, many of which are contained within the AONB/NP Management Plans.

Defra Foresight – land use futures


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© North Devon AONB

View Word Clouds of Management Plans

© East Devon AONB

Use the links below to view a Word Cloud of the Protected Landscapes Management Plan summaries. Word Clouds are created by increasing the size of words used most frequently in a document - they can give the reader a flavour of the emphasis in a document and are helpful in introducing people to the key elements of complex publications. These Word Clouds have been generated by