Natural England adopted its first Designations Strategy in July 2012.
The Strategy will guide our landscape and nature conservation designation work in the medium term, with a review after an initial 5 years. It provides a framework for making choices about our designations so that we can contribute to the delivery of the Government’s ambitions as set out in the 2011 Natural Environment White Paper and Biodiversity 2020, whilst ensuring that we deliver our statutory duties to identify and protect areas of special interest on land and at sea.
Under the 2012 Designations Strategy our approach to all future landscape and nature conservation designations will:
England’s natural environment is an important asset which once lost can never be fully restored to its original state.
Since the 1930’s frameworks have been introduced within Britain to protect those areas of greatest value and scientific interest, often amidst wider international discussion and debate. These include formal designation for areas considered to be of particular value for the conservation of selected species, habitats, historic and cultural assets as well as landscapes of great value and/or scenic beauty.
Designation provides a long term solution to support the introduction of management measures which secure the conservation of those features considered to be of particular value, or which might otherwise find it difficult to survive under normal circumstances. All supported by a legal framework at UK and international scales. The approach to designation management in the United Kingdom does not seek to freeze large areas in a specific moment in time, so activities are driven by a principle of conserve and enhance. This provides opportunities to increase species populations, extend remnants of natural and semi-natural habitat and undertake other activities which support the longer term retention of cultural and historical features, as well as their enjoyment and understanding by the public.
At the present time, around 28% of the land surface of England is covered by SSSI, AONB and/or National Park designation on account of its national significance in conserving and enhancing its landscape and/or natural conservation interest for present and future generations.