Dorset’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is being renamed today.

All designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England and Wales are becoming National Landscapes today (Wednesday, November 22), which in Dorset includes the Dorset National Landscape and the Cranborne Chase National Landscape.

The previously-named Dorset AONB covers more than 40% of Dorset, stretching from Lyme Regis to Poole Harbour and inland as far as Blandford. 

The new name reflects the sites' national importance, the impact they make to protect the nation from the threats of climate change, nature depletion and the wellbeing crisis, whilst also creating greater understanding and awareness for the work that they do.

John Watkins, Chief Executive of the National Landscapes Association said: “For decades, AONB teams have convened powerful partnerships which have placed them at the forefront of the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, but since their initial designation, our country has changed immensely, as have the needs and pressures on the environment and communities.

“However, we have great ambition as well as the commitment and readiness to care for and protect these important places, whilst also extending a welcome to more people.

“Our ambitious aims build on AONB teams’ long track record of successful delivery for nature and people, and we are confident that we will achieve them. National Landscapes are the landscape designation for the 21st Century and beyond.”

This has been branded a significant milestone for the UK and the next step in fully realising the National Landscapes’ vision to be the leading exemplars of how thriving, diverse communities can work with and for nature in the UK: restoring ecosystems, providing food, storing carbon to mitigate the effects of climate change, safeguarding against drought and flooding, whilst also nurturing people’s health and wellbeing.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “Dorset is blessed with natural beauty, and it is a vital contribution to the county’s economy. We are custodians of the natural environment and have pledged to maintain specific habitats and increase biodiversity where possible.”

Tom Munro, Lead Officer for Dorset National Landscape added: “Our work in leading the Wild Purbeck partnership is a great example of how we can bring people together to do bigger and better things for wildlife. Wild Purbeck enabled the creation of the 3,300-hectare Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve, allowing natural processes to be reinstated at a landscape scale.

“£800,000 secured by the Dorset National Landscape team for the NNR’s wilder grazing unit brought the focus and investment needed to make this ambitious scheme move from idea to action, supporting habitats for many rare species such as the Purbeck mason wasp, yellow centaury, heath bee-fly and woodlark depend.”