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Monitoring Landscape Change : AONBS and Landscape Character Assessment in the Malvern Hills.

By Nick Evans


Conceptions of landscape and its protection have changed over time. The same is true of discourses about environmental management, but seldom have the two been aligned. This paper theorises a link between these practices through reference to the landscape of the Malvern Hills. The locality was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in October 1959 in recognition of the high scenic value of this ‘upland ridge’ situated within a lowland landscape setting. However, much criticism was levelled at the ‘Cinderella’ position of AONB designations until the 2000 Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act attempted to improve their performance at preventing landscape change. The Act formalised the need to establish AONB management plans and to monit or the effectiveness of such plans. With no established methodology for such monitoring in existence, the paper reports on an innovative attempt to monitor landscape change through a resolution of tensions between conceptions of ‘scenic beauty’ and the ‘ecologically modern’ system of Landscape Character Assessment. This done, thoughts turn to a cultural critique of these actions which raise challenges for future approaches to protecting landscape

Topics: GF, GB
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