In the past Natural England, but now Defra, with the three constituent local authorities, Cumbria County Council, Allerdale Borough Council, and Carlisle City Council, provide both the foundation and the core funding to maintain the AONB Partnership through the provision of a Staff Unit and a Joint Advisory Committee (JAC).
The Staff Unit produces 5 yearly Management Plans on behalf of the three local Authorities, to review and develop future plans and projects.
AONB stands for 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' and that description fits this part of the world perfectly: it's a precious landscape with such a distinctive character and natural beauty that it is in the nation's interest to safeguard it.
There are 38 AONBs across England and Wales, created by the legislation of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949. Together, they comprise some of the finest countryside in England and Wales. AONBs represent 18% of the Finest Countryside in England and Wales. There are also 8 AONBs in Northern Ireland.
Their care has been entrusted to the local authorities, organisations, community groups and the individuals who live and work within them or who value them. The primary purpose of AONB designation is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the designated area: In achieving this, the social and economic development that contributes to the natural beauty of the AONB should be encouraged and the management of recreation and tourism improved.
Each AONB has been designated for special attention by reason of their high qualities. These include their flora, fauna, historical and cultural associations as well as scenic views. AONB landscapes range from rugged coastline, dunes, salt marshes, peatlands, woodlands and estuaries to water meadows, gentle downland and upland moors.
The AONBs are a national asset containing a wide variety of attractive landscapes and like National Parks, our AONBs are very much living and working landscapes that have been, and continue to be, shaped by nature and human activity.
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000 (the "CRoW" Act) added further regulation and protection, ensuring the future of AONBs as important national resources.
The National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) was formed in 1998 as an independent organisation to act on behalf of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England and Wales.
Its membership is largely composed of representatives from local authorities whose boundaries include AONBs and who are concerned to improve their management and funding arrangements. The NAAONB is administered by a Management Board and holds an Annual Conference, which provides an opportunity for those working in AONBs to join together and address issues of current concern.
The NAAONB also works through Joint Accords with the Association of National Park Authorities and other major organisations to establish agreements over issues which directly affect the work of AONBs. The NAAONB produces a full colour magazine for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty - "Outstanding" - which is published twice a year. The Association also produces a regular newsletter, "AONB News". Their website is: www.aonb.org.uk