Natural England - Countryside Quality Counts

Countryside Quality Counts

The Countryside Quality Counts project was developed as a national indicator of how the countryside is changing, to understand how and where that change occurred and, most importantly, where it matters the most.

How has landscape character change been assessed?

Nationally, the monitoring of landscape change has been done through a combination of quantitative and qualitative assessment.

The Countryside Quality Countsexternal link project measured landscape change by assessing change in landscape character for two periods: 1990-1998 and 1999-2003.

The project used England’s National Character Areas (NCAs) as the geographical framework for reporting and assessing both the magnitude and the direction of landscape change for each NCA, using four categories:

  • maintained
  • enhancing
  • neglected
  • diverging

Key findings of the project

The assessment for the second period (1999- 2003) showed that:

  • Existing landscape character is being maintained in 51 per cent of England’s landscapes (NCAs).
  • A further 10 per cent of existing character is being enhanced.
  • However, 20 per cent of our landscapes are showing signs of neglect, in the sense that past loss of character has not been reversed.
  • A further 19 per cent of new landscape characteristics are emerging.

The assessment suggests that the erosion of valued landscape character revealed in the 1990-1998 assessment has been stopped or slowed in some places and slowed in others.

There is also evidence that in many key localities the existing landscape character has been sustained or strengthened.

Areas where the landscape character was neglected or diverging are generally close to major centres of population and transport routes.

Further information

Contact: Andrew Baker (Countryside Quality Counts Project Manager),

Archived report - Land use change at the urban:rural fringe and in the wider countrysideexternal link (January 2006) Department of Town and Regional Planning, University of Sheffield
This is the 'Main Report' which is not available on the Land Use Change pageexternal link in the the National Archives due to its size.

Related article

Character and Quality of England’s Landscapes (CQuEL project)