Protected landscape status is one of the highest designations afforded by the British legislature. To maintain consistent landscape quality, track environmental interventions, or measure the impacts of planned and unexpected events there is a need for co-ordinated national as well as local environmental monitoring. Conventionally indicators are used as monitoring proxies for tracking complex changes in landscape form and qualities, designation criteria, compliance against protective legislation, and the effectiveness of varying governance programmes. The regulatory agency of UK (English) environmental standards on behalf of the government, Natural England, monitors against a framework of indicators for the designation criteria of ‘natural beauty’ in 10 UK National Parks (NP) and 33 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and distributes data and analysis annually. This paper centres on an empirical case study that investigates environmental indicators used on-the-ground, as evidenced in AONB management plans. These bottom-up indicators are compared with top-down indicator frameworks from both Natural England's monitoring programme (FMEOPL), and the emerging indicators associated with the UK 25-Year Plan to Improve the Environment (25YEP). A methodology is developed to collate diverse indicators from these three policy and governance sources and to recommend a synthetic list of 158 indicators with future potential as candidates of a national framework for monitoring environmental change in the UK at landscape-scale. Given the trans-national action of environmental stressors, this work is also considered to represent internationally significant findings.



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Publication Title

Ecological Indicators





Organisational Unit

Research and Innovation