North Wessex Downs AONB, along with the other 32 English Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has received reconfirmation of Category V status from the IUCN UK Committee (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Category V status is a great recognition by the worldwide community that AONBs are regarded as lead agencies in protecting the UK’s landscapes.
The reconfirmation follows three years of work with the IUCN UK by the National Association of AONBs consisting of input to developing IUCN’s guidance on categorisation (The Putting Nature on the Map Project), open forum discussion and the drawing up of a Statement of Compliance, supported by evidence from across the AONB Family. This statement was accepted by the IUCN panel in June.
North Wessex Downs, along with each individual AONB partnership, provided further evidence to demonstrate that we meet the high standards demanded by the IUCN.
The main objective is to safeguard regions that have built up a 'distinct character' in regards to their ecological, biological, cultural or scenic value. Category V—Protected Landscapes and Seascapes – is only one step down from the highest Category V1, which is reserved for vast areas of land that already have a low level of human occupation.
Category V is one of the more flexible classifications of protected areas. As a result, protected landscapes and seascapes may be able to accommodate contemporary developments such as ecotourism at the same time as maintaining the historical management practices that may procure the sustainability of agrobiodiversity and aquatic biodiversity.
Howard Davies, Chief Executive of the National Association of AONBs said: “This is the culmination of three years’ work. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty make a significant impact to conserving the UK’s biodiversity and the reaffirmation of their Category V status is a great recognition that AONBs remain the UK’s Landscapes for Life.”