An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a landscape which is considered so precious that it is protected for the nation. The criteria for designating an AONB include valuable wildlife, habitats, geology and heritage, as well as scenic views.
There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales. AONBs have existed since 1949, when an act of Parliament enabled the creation of AONBs and National Parks, although the Blackdown Hills was designated relatively recently, in 1991.
The natural fabric of these important places is fragile, so the primary purpose of all AONBs is to conserve and enhance the landscape.
The care of AONBs is entrusted to the local authorities, organisations, community groups and the people who live and work within them.
The government agency responsible for AONBs is Natural England. To find out more about Natural England go to www.naturalengland.org.uk
AONB partnerships receive 75% of their funding from Defra and 25% from local authorities and other sources.