The National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) have released the findings of an independent assessment entitled "The Value of AONB partnerships".
The Report, prepared by Land Use Consultants (LUC) shows that
AONB partnerships are embedded within, and trusted by, local communities.
The mix of locally accountable elected members with members of local interest groups and officers from national agencies provides an effective structure for deciding local priorities and co-ordinating shared programmes of action.
AONB partnerships excel at using small sums of public money to draw extra money and resources into rural communities
AONB partnerships are highly successful at using the core funding they receive from central government and constituent Local Authorities to lever other income. The diversity of AONB partnerships' membership gives them the ability to turn small individual contributions, which would on their own achieve little, into significant shared endeavours. Without core funding the ability of the AONB partnership to lever in money and in-kind support will disappear.
AONB partnerships are flexible, adaptable and respond to change
The work being undertaken by AONB partnerships is of growing relevance to national and local policy objectives. Concepts such as sustainable development, the ecosystems approach and the environment as an economic driver and determinant of health and wellbeing, all of which are core tenets of the AONB purpose, now have widespread acceptance in national and local policy. This has meant that the work of AONB partnerships is of mainstream interest to many partners in a way that would not have been the case ten years ago.
AONB partnerships are helping facilitate new ways of working in the public sector
AONB Partnerships and their staff are actively involved in a range of delivery projects, often taking responsibility for leading projects where there are gaps in the capacity of partners to do so. This is seen as a key strength of the AONB Partnership approach and is increasingly relevant to the way most Local Authorities are operating more as commissioning bodies
AONB partnerships work together and recognise the benefits of acting together as a Family
The potential for sharing best practice and using a collaborative ‘action learning' approach to build the institutional capacity of AONB Units has been shown through the NAAONB Future Landscapes Programme. The 36 Lead Officers that participated in the Programme continue to work together at a national level to address key issues facing AONBs.
Howard Davies, CEO, NAAONB said
"LUC's work has recognised the true value of AONB partnerships and has also highlighted concerns about their future funding. All AONB partnerships are keen to use their influence to support the current drive for economic recovery and growth. The high landscape quality of AONBs, articulated in terms of their natural beauty, is now recognised as a key economic driver and the greatest opportunities for AONB partnerships are likely to lie in those sectors that manage or derive their business from this natural beauty - such as food, drink, forestry and tourism.
"It is important that AONB partnerships are well equipped to continue their important work at a local community level and the NAAONB will continue to work with Defra and Natural Resources Wales to ensure this, and that AONBs remain Landscapes for Life"
Visit www.landscapesforlife.org.uk for further information about the AONB Family. (photo by Peter Arnold)