Question and Answers Panel Debate

A ‘Question Time’ panel debate with Howard Davies (NAAONB), Mat Roberts (Interserve), Ian Glover (National Grid), Carly Wood (University of Essex) and Tom Munro (Dorset AONB).
Listen to the audio from the session below the text transcription of q&a’s.

Do you think health sector has any idea of the offer that landscape has? And what are the barriers to get commissioning and prescription?
– Nick Johannsen Kent Downs 

Carly Wood: There is awareness of landscapes. But this not getting across to commissioners. Research shows that barriers are around evidence and there is a need to work out how to accredit. Much of this is related to funding. No consistency.

Tom: Good projects around country. Wye Valley working on dementia. Natural Choices project in Dorset. Real challenge is on developing these, and also continued enhancement of landscape as well on which they are based.

Howard: Approach to Royal Institute for public health – one of issues here is as Carly said, lack of evidence to back up offers of help. If pharmaceutical industry can offer health solutions, and prove it, these will be used rather than our offer that is not evidence based

Mat: Getting health products approved by Government takes lots of time and money and lobbying. Example in development of vaccines. In order to get natural solutions to be prescribed by GPs, this work needs to be done.


Advice is to good to get evidence, but lot of evidence out there already that should be used cleverly.

Need to think about public and how they will receive not being given drugs and instead being asked to go for a walk.

Jenny Carey-Wood, N Devon Coast AONB: Lot of talk about public sector, worries about funding. What is the future role of public sector in landscape scale conservation?

Mat: Public sector will get smaller. However, social enterprise is a fantastic opportunity and a lot of work we do is through social enterprises. Example from prison services and outsourcing work to social enterprises. This may be future.

Ian: Pressure on local authorities – looking to divest and pull back, especially in conservation, outdoor learning. Can still add value in networks and community engagement. Community enterprise sector can fill gaps.

Howard: It is about a blend, not public vs private sector. Not loose site of public sector to deliver things that public sector cannot deliver.

Tom: Public sector has duty to work in public interest and where there is market failure.


70% of local authority budget on vulnerable – by 2020 will run out of money for anything else. Professional services is costing millions. But spending money on nature and landscapes can help solve the problems.

Colette Beckham, Cornwall AONB: People working hard to reverse biodiversity and address climate change. But it’s not working. How do we address businesses that are not helping?

Ian: Businesses are changing – and there are examples of why preserving biodiversity and landscapes are not a cost, but drive new value. Lots of good groups around keen to offer business guidance.

Tom: We can help inform and inspire people and enable them to alter their consumption patterns

Howard: Lots of good businesses are now wanting to put something back. Need to help businesses internalise formerly externalised costs. Climate – it isn’t all about business – others have roles to play. Language – important to consider changing narratives around how we talk about our work.

Carly: Just worked with Wildlife Trusts on biodiversity – interesting how little evidence there is on health value of bio-diverse environments. Need more.

Mat: Costs – business wants a level playing field, but lots of businesses are positive about biodiversity. Role of regulator is vital – licence to operate is fundamental.


ESS approach critical. We have responsibility to make this understandable

Need to engage in positive language – a suite of arguments delivered in a positive way.

Simon Amstutz, Suffolk Coasts and Heaths AONB: We live in time of competing demands. Are AONBs on right track and what can be do better?

Mat: Are you adapting fas enough? Probably not. Take your flexibility and use it. Be radical.

Howard: Look out not in. Listen more talk less. Take risks. Be confident

Ian: Partnerships important – what about community enterprises – is there a role in promoting rural skills and rural economy?

Carly: Is there an overview of impact of AONB on health and wellbeing?

Tom: AONBs running faster to stay still. Need to take time to listen to trusted critical friends.


GDP generated in Chichester Harbour doesn’t filter through to protected landscapes. Need to tap in to latent GDP in our landscapes, but we are not doing it.

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