Landscapes Are For Life!

National Celebrations Inspire People to Connect to Our Outstanding Landscapes.

The Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB will be taking part in Landscapes for Life week which takes place 21-29 September 2019.

Each year Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty across the UK organise special events during Landscapes for Life week, but this year is special – we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act which paved the way for the legislation to create the UK’s 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

This year’s Landscapes for Life week is themed ‘Natural Health Service’. We’re encouraging local people and visitors to come along to a Great British Beach Clean event (until Mon 23 Sept), to enjoy a walk or cycle ride all week in our local AONBs to boost your wellbeing, and to visit us at the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival (Sat 28-Sun 29 Sept) to find out about how nature is the best producer and provider of benefits! These will all celebrate the pioneering post-war vision that protected these treasured areas for everyone to enjoy.

The week commences with a ‘National Moment’ at 2pm on Saturday 21 September when poet Laureate Simon Armitage will premiere a specially commissioned poem, and readings will take place at events nationwide. We will be sharing the poem and our ‘hearts in the landscape’ photos widely on social media.

Simon Armitage says: “I was delighted to be asked to work with the National Association for AONBs on this auspicious occasion. They are an institution that safeguards and celebrates all that is good about the world we live in, and an organisation whose values I share and trust in. The relationship between poetry and the land in this country goes back to the very origins of poetic utterance and I’m proud to be making a contribution to that ongoing dialogue. There is no greater challenge for a contemporary laureate and geography graduate than to contribute artistically to a conversation about the natural world and the state of our planet, and to praise those things that are wonderful and of wonder.

Cllr Nigel Chapman, Chair of the Dedham Vale AONB, says: “I am looking forward to Landscapes for Life Week hugely. For me it will be a powerful reminder of what health and wellbeing benefits we can all gain from our #NaturalHealthService! Everyone is welcome to visit the landscapes that over the last 70 years have been set aside for us. As John Muir said in the late 1800’s: Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

Cllr David Wood, Chair of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB, says: “I have just walked the whole of the Suffolk Coast Path, for the charity Multiple System Atrophy, and I sincerely acknowledge how much I have reconnected to the coastal landscape, how my wellbeing has benefitted by lifting my eyes to the glorious Suffolk skies and sea views, and how much my health has improved with the exercise. The experience has strengthened my understanding of the importance of increasing access opportunities for everyone.”

Howard Davies, Chief Executive of the National Association for AONBs, said: “There are 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Each one is incredibly special to both their local communities and those that visit them from further afield. I am deeply moved by the importance people have attached to celebrating these special places during Landscapes for Life week. There are so many opportunities for people to join in and enjoy their local landscape and the benefits to their health and wellbeing that this can bring. I wish all AONB teams great success with their Landscapes for Life Week events and encourage everyone to get involved.”

The 1949 Act that paved the way for the creation of AONBs was part of the post-World War Two democratic settlement efforts which saw the government rebuilding a sense of national identity and thanking citizens for their sacrifices during the war. The Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks that were designated as a result of the act were envisioned as partner organisations to the NHS which was created in 1948. Giving people access to the countryside for exercise, enjoyment and mental health benefits was considered a preventative measure; while the NHS was designed to help people if they became sick.

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