Devon has an outstanding natural environment with a range of international and national protected landscapes.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, along with National Parks, are the nation’s finest landscapes, given statutory protection by Government. There are five AONBs in Devon, three wholly within the County ie North Devon Coasts, East Devon and South Devon and two are cross-boundary with neighbouring authorities, Tamar Valley and Blackdown Hills. Taken with Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, these “protected landscapes” cover 35% of Devon.
The statutory purpose of AONBs is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape. They have the same landscape value as National Parks. Each of the 5 AONBs is managed by a local partnership. They bring together rural and landscape management initiatives that assist the delivery of the sustainable development agenda for the County. The distinct and unique qualities of each AONB need care and attention. Action is co-ordinated in each AONB by a small local team guided by a wider community partnership.
The North Devon Coast AONB designated in 1959 is one of a family of 'Protected Landscapes' in the South West. It contains a diversity of scenery, landscapes and habitats and encompasses the Hartland Heritage Coast, North Devon Heritage Coast and the internationally famous UNESCO Biosphere Reserve centred on Braunton Burrows.