What is an AONB?

If you’re thinking about a family day out in the Forest of Bowland, you may have seen the area referred to as an AONB. What exactly is an AONB? It stands for Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and just like National Parks such as the Lake District, an AONB like the Forest of Bowland is considered to be an outstanding landscape with distinctive character and natural beauty. The protected status it holds means that it is worthwhile understanding a little more about an AONB, particularly if you are looking for things to do with the family in the Forest of Bowland.

The protected areas such as the Forest of Bowland are all classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature or IUCN. There are different categories of protected areas throughout the world with all National Parks, Heritage Coasts and AONB’s being a Category V covering all Protected Landscapes.

With 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty across Britain, they cover approximately 18% of our countryside which is a significant proportion when you factor in the overall population within the UK. The protected areas make it much more complex when it comes to building or planning within the landscape, particularly as the recognition of their importance is designed to ensure the character and qualities of the landscape is maintained and protected for all to enjoy for generations to come.

These areas are so incredibly precious that they are safeguarded in the national interest; not just including the aesthetical beauty of landscape but much more! These areas include things such as flora and fauna within an AONB but are certainly not limited to the natural formation of the area – it may also include centuries of historical architecture, manmade lakes or other geological and physiographic features. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty encompasses both human and natural elements that make up such distinctive features within the area, such as animals, soil, plants and geology as well as archaeology, architecture and communities within it. It is an area celebrated for its beauty both past and present.

An Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty such as the Forest of Bowland is protected under the 1949 National Parks and Access to Countryside Act which is also enhanced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. These Acts ensure the special protection of these areas of national interest, which special attention to coastlines, dunes, woodlands, salt marches, meadows and moors. Most of these areas are still very much living and working landscapes which are continually shaped by natural and manmade activity which makes it all the more important to be considerate of landscapes within these areas when visiting the Forest of Bowland or similar protected landscapes.

There are many significant places to explore in the Trough of Bowland; from the beautiful Nicky Nook within Wyresdale Park to Hornby Castle and Beacon Fell, it is a truly memorable area to visit. Why not take a family visit to the Forest of Bowland and see for yourself!