Suffolk: Protection and enhancement of AONB seen as the key

Marsh Harrier male Minsmere

Marsh Harrier male Minsmere - Credit: Jon Evans

The newly-proposed Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty management plan, the third to be put forward since the area’s designation was confirmed in 1970, outlines 155 actions categorised in four themes.

The officers’ report says the proposed actions would work towards delivering a wider 20-year vision for the area and come under the headings of protecting the area’s high-quality landscape and wildlife, enabling local communities to become actively engaged in their environment, helping the economy to thrive so that new and established businesses can flourish, ensuring high-quality facilities enable everyone to enjoy the AONB, and maintaining the area’s tranquility and rural character.

In its 20-year vision statement, the report deals with each of the AONB’s main habitat types.

For example, for the coast it aims for an “integrated approach” to enhancing the coast’s “value for people and wildlife”.

It foresees a careful balance between the need to safeguard communities and develop key infrastructure and “ensuring the character and the special qualities of the dynamic coastline are retained.”

The estuaries should be “proactively managed to balance the many demands placed on them whether from recreation, commerce, agriculture, wildlife or the aspirations of local communities.”

For the Sandlings heaths the plan foresees “active management” expanding the heathland areas “reducing fragmentation and safeguarding biodiversity.”

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For agricultural areas, farmers and land managers would be “supported to make extensive use of agri-environment schemes to help wildlife, improve access, restore landscapes and retain heritage features.”

In a section on climate change, the plan says there was “overwhelming evidence” that global change “influenced by the human use of fossil fuels, raw materials and intensive agriculture is occurring.”

The “critical issues” in the short to medium term in the AONB were likely to include increased flooding events and damage to property, disruption to economic activity and the availability of fresh water. Increased extreme weather events could also have effects on farming, biodiversity, tourism, fire risk and transport, utility and communications infrastructures.

There was a need to increase understanding of the potential effects of climate change on the characteristic habitats, species and landscapes of the AONB and to develop longer-term mitigation, the plan says.