Natural Designations

England's protected landscapes are amongst its finest and most treasured landscapes. The landscapes we see today are cultural landscapes – the result of thousands of years of human influence on the countryside as people interact with nature. They continue to be living and working landscapes and the people who manage the land today help safeguard their special qualities.

National Parks & AONBs

England's National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) cover nearly a quarter of the land area of England, which together form some of our finest protected landscapes.

As well as being landscapes of great aesthetic quality, these protected areas provide a major repository for some of our most important historic sites, containing 66,000 listed buildings, 9,000 nationally important ancient monuments (nearly half the total number in England) and in excess of 360 designated historic parks and gardens.

Other natural designations

In addition to National Parks and AONBs there are further national and international statutory environmental designations which contribute to England's natural environment and make a major contribution to national and regional character. These include the following:

  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
  • Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)
  • Special Protection Areas (SPA)
  • Ramsar Sites
  • National Nature Reserves (NNR)
  • Local Nature Reserves (LNR)
  • Marine Protected Areas (MPA) - including a Marine Nature Reserve at Lundy