England’s protected landscapes

National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) cover a quarter of England. For most of us in the Reading group, the nearest two of England’s 34 AONBs are the Chilterns and North Wessex Downs, and our nearest National Park is the South Downs.

In May 2018 the government asked for an independent review into whether the protections for National Parks and AONBs are still fit for purpose. In particular, what might be done better, what changes will help and whether the definitions and systems in place are still valid. The review’s final report was published on 21 September 2019. It found that they are falling a long way short of their potential and set out what needs to change. Almost 18 months later, the Government has yet to respond.

Two days ago, the RSPB along with the National Trust and Wildlife Trusts wrote a letter urging th

e Government to make 10 important changes to “unlock the potential of England’s protected landscapes for nature, climate and people”. These are changes recommended by the review but the letter’s authors have built on them to show how they could be implemented to bring the greatest benefits. By taking these reforms forward now the Government would be showing strong global leadership ahead of the major international biodiversity and climate conferences later this year.

You can read the letter to Defra Secretary of State George Eustice by going to the following link:


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With the COVID-19 restrictions lifting, we are planning on resuming our indoor and outdoor meetings, albeit with some restrictions in place. Our first meeting will be held on 14 September but unfortun