What is an AONB?
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a landscape which is considered so precious that it is protected for the nation. The criteria for designating an AONB include valuable wildlife, habitats, geology and heritage, as well as scenic views.
The primary purpose of the AONB designation is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area, now and for future generations.
This nationally designated AONB covers 380 sq miles of countryside overlapping the boundaries of Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Somerset.
It is a diverse landscape offering areas of rolling chalk grassland, ancient woodlands, chalk escarpments, downland hillsides and chalk river valleys each with a distinct and recognisable character. The landscapes of the AONB today, as they were in the past, are extraordinarily rich.
Cranborne Chase AONB Management Plan (2014-2019)
This is adopted by the nine Local Authorities who share responsibility for guiding the management of this nationally important area - visit the Management Plan page to download the plan.
The AONB Partnership
The AONB Partnership is open to everyone who lives and works in the area. It also welcomes visitors to the area and other interested parties, be they individuals, government or non-governmental organisations or an interest group. Find out more..
Did you know that….?
- Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are equal in landscape status to National Parks
- There are ½ million people within thirty minutes drive of the AONB in surrounding market towns and the Bournemouth and Poole conurbations
- The AONB covers an area of 983 square kilometres or 380 square miles of countryside overlapping the boundaries of Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Somerset.
- The AONB has an extensive network of Rights of Way, the combined length of over 1,500 km (927 miles) would take you from Southampton to Edinburgh and back again
- The long distance footpaths of the Wessex Ridgeway, Jubilee Trail and the Monarch’s Way all criss-cross the AONB
- There are a myriad of ancient droves and track-ways bristling with history waiting to be explored
- There are at least 550 Scheduled Ancient Monuments and more than 50 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (important areas for nature) within the AONB
- Farming is by far the biggest land use with more than 89% of the AONB classed as farmland
- Almost 14% of the UK’s important chalk grassland is found here
- The AONB abounds with many ancient woodlands
- There are over 350kms (220 miles) of chalk rivers
- We have over 33,000 residents within the AONB, which is one of the lowest population densities in the South West.