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 over 63,300 listed buildings, more than 10,400 nationally important ancient monuments (about half of those designated in England) and in excess of 300 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
Also of interest...
The streets and buildings of our towns and villages are part of the historic character of England.
An introduction to good practice guidance on managing local heritage assets using local heritage lists.
Find out more about the 'Register of Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England'.