An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is exactly what it says it is: a precious landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so outstanding that it is in the nation's interest to safeguard them.
Created by the same legislation that led to the national parks – the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act – the AONBs were established to conserve the beauty of the best of largely lowland rural Britain’s populated agricultural landscapes. This made them quite distinct from the national parks, which themselves were deliberately created in more remote, mainly upland areas that had large expanses of open land suitable not only for nature conservation, but also for the promotion of recreation. They were also designed to be run quite differently, the parks developing their own bureaucracies, complete with planning powers, large staffs and central funding, while the AONBs remained tied to local government, with a tiny core staff and relatively meagre finances.
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