Natural England collaboration set to make AONBs and National Parks ‘richer in nature’

Natural England, the National Parks and the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) have signed a joint agreement to work together more closely to make England “richer in nature and accessible to all”.

The new agreement is set to map out a pathway that will frame the work of the three bodies, though the individual roles of each organisation in the collaboration is yet to be expanded on. 

Announcing the joint agreement, Natural England said: “We aspire for the new era of our relationship to be one where we collaboratively deliver more and add value to each other’s work.” 

According to the release, yet to be published specific plans will set out the joint ambitions and describe how the three bodies will seek out “new collaborative opportunities”. 

Announcing the collaboration, Natural England cites the success of the Nature Recovery Network (NRN), an initiative launched last year as part of the government’s 25-Year Environment Plan. 

An aim of the NRN is to create or restore 500,000 hectares of additional wildlife-rich habitat outside of protected sites.

As part of the agreement, the three bodies say they will seek to make National Parks and AONBs a central component of the Nature Recovery Network by restoring nature in and around our national landscapes, providing vital carbon stores, and making UK landscapes more resilient. 

The announcement also says they will seek to make the UK’s natural assets “places that all of society can enjoy”.

According to the release, these priorities will be delivered through the AONB Partnership’s ‘Colchester Declaration’, National Parks England’s, ‘four priority plans’ and Natural England’s, ‘Building partnerships for Natures recovery’.

These will be used alongside future farming schemes, which the release says will reward the delivery of public goods and England’s land use planning system. 

Earlier this year, DEFRA announced it would be increasing Natural England's budget by 47% this financial year, a move that was commended by green groups. It follows years of repeated budget cuts.

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