Think Big:ecological recovery in protected landscapes

Monday 13th June 2011

The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership and The Natural Environment White Paper

 The Governments vision for the natural environment over the next 50 years is set out in the Natural Environment White Paper published last week. The Natural Environment White Paper (NEWP)- ‘The Natural Choice’ is based on research that shows the strong economic arguments for safeguarding and enhancing the natural environment.
The White Paper also acts on the recommendations of ‘Making Space for Nature’, a report into the state of England’s wildlife sites, led by Professor John Lawton and published in September 2010, which showed that England’s wildlife sites are fragmented and not able to respond to the pressures of climate change and other pressures we put on our land.

The Lawton report highlighted AONBs as an excellent base for delivering a more effective ecological network, not least because  their management plans provide a basis for coordinated action to integrate effective ecological networks with landscape and other uses including farming, education, tourism and recreation.

The National Association of AONBs has welcomed the publication of the NEWP and has signed a joint statement with the English National Park Authorities Association, RSPB and National Trust. Think Big: ecological recovery in protected landscapes – summarises the opportunities and challenges and lists actions for making the aspirations of the White Paper a reality.

The Mendip Hill AONB Partnership will be considering the White Paper at its meeting on 30th June including how to further improve the condition of designated wildlife sites (SSSIs) and other wildlife sites, and how to progress the large scale habitat management already taking place by Somerset and Avon Wildlife Trusts in the AONB. It will also consider becoming a Local Nature Partnership, to strengthen joined up actions across local agencies and organisations.

The Government has recognised that AONB Partnerships with their unique governance, close engagement with local and visitor communities and their statutory purpose to conserve and enhance natural beauty and wildlife and cultural heritage – that they should be a the forefront of the recovery of England’s biodiversity.

The Mendip Hills AONB is currently; working with partners to address wildlife and other management issues on Black Down; providing opportunities for young people to learn outdoors through its Young Ranger scheme and increasing volunteering opportunities. The AONB is already looking at ways to build links with the business community to identify opportunities to improve nature and the economy.



1. The NAAONB is an influential, trusted organisation that is seen as the mouthpiece for the AONB Family. It harnesses the collective experience, enthusiasm and goodwill of the family and uses it to further our collective cause – to conserve and enhance the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Further information

2. AONBs are designated by government to conserve and enhance the UK’s finest countryside. There are 46 AONBs in the United Kingdom, 33 in England, 4 in Wales, 1 which straddles the border between England and Wales, and 8 in Northern Ireland. AONBs are locally managed, nationally important, and deal with global issues. Further information


4. Think Big: ecological recovery in protected landscapes

5. The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership Committee next meets on 30th June 2011 at 10.00am Shipham Village Hall. Papers will be uploaded to

For further information
Mendip Hills AONB Partnership
Sarah Jackson AONB Manager   01761 462338

Howard Davies                             CEO, NAAONB                         07576 321614
Jill Smith                                       Communications Manager     07815 118292