"Standards of esthetic perception are derived from the deepest strata of our mental organisation and are grounded both in the form of the world as we perceive it and in our own perceptive structure, although in a developed state they are deeply influenced by conceptual thought. Being grounded in observable fact they are connected with what we call science. They are fundamentally based on our grasp of forms, for instance the circular form of the solar disk or the grouping of the stars. Without such grasp they would be non-existent. But whereas the scientist is engaged in the analysis of forms (structures etc.) the artist sometimes recreates them and sometimes creates new ones. Albeit derived from and dependent on existing nature forms."

Max Rieser; Three Principles of Natural Beauty (J Phil 53 354-366 1956)

Need for and response to beauty: beauty as a concept has become as taboo in the arts as it is repressed in the world at large. It’s easy for beauty to stay out of debates in the arts, sheltering behind the belief that it cannot be defined, being irredeemably subjective. The topic merits a huge debate –too huge for this paper. However one approach to the dilemma of definition lies in focussing on the root meaning of aesthetic – to the ‘drawing in of the breath’ in the presence of some phenomenon –where it’s sheer presence is breathtaking. It’s also tied in history and myth to love and to pleasure. Whatever the benefits of material progress, the world around – its sights, sounds, smells, its cityscapes and landscapes at first sight evoke little pleasure or love. They will need a very special kind of apperception to do so. Beauty, our need for and impulse towards it, unlike sex and violence and horror, is largely repressed. The delightful is regarded as superficial, the wretched or appalling as close to the truth. Yet finding and capturing beauty was at one time the major preoccupation of artists, including poets. Poets have the task of finding beauty lurking in an often soul-destroyed world. Many have submitted to the repression. Plenty have not.
Judy Gahagan, Claiming the Poetry Heartlands


AONBs, National Parks and Heritage Coasts, "England's finest countryside", are collectively known as 'protected landscapes'. They are unique national assets and are irreplaceable. They belong to the wider family of protected landscapes throughout Europe - and indeed the world - which are protected not just for the present, but also for future generations.

The close connection between landscape, wildlife habitat and human activity is such that these areas often contain rare and valued wildlife and cultural heritage.
In contrast to National Parks, AONBs as originally designated:

  • are largely managed by local authority advisory committees (National parks require a special authority of their own).
  • are gentle rather than dramatic landscapes.
  • are mostly located in lowland areas.
  • are not bound to offer public recreational opportunities as part of their designation


A conceptual mind map for managing natural beauty

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