The Isle of Anglesey’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), has one of the most distinctive, attractive and varied landscapes in the British Isles.
Some of the main features of the Anglesey AONB are:
- low cliffs alternating with coves and pebble beaches
- sheer limestone cliffs interspersed with fine sandy beaches
- stretches of sand dunes with beaches
The AONB is also home to approximately 7000 people who live in creative and dynamic communities. These communities are also popular holiday destinations for those who wish to relax on the island or participate in the wide range of outdoor activities such as walking the 201km (125 miles) coastal path.
The coastal zone of Anglesey was designated as an AONB in 1966 and was confirmed in 1967. It was designated in order to protect the aesthetic appeal and variety of the island’s coastal landscape and habitats from inappropriate development.
The AONB is predominantly a coastal designation, covering most of Anglesey’s 201 kilometre (125 miles)coastline but also encompasses Holyhead Mountain and Mynydd Bodafon. Substantial areas of other land protected by the AONB form the backdrop to the coast.
The approximate coverage of the Anglesey AONB is 221sq kms (21,500 hectares), covering one third of the island.
A number of the habitats found on Anglesey are afforded even greater protection both through UK and European designations because of their nature conservation value, these include:
- 5 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)
- 3 Special Protection Areas (SPAs)
- 1 National Nature Reserve
- 31 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
- 75 Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs)
These protected habitats support a variety of wildlife such as Harbour Porpoises and Marsh Fritillaries.
The AONB also takes in three sections of open, undeveloped coastline which have been designated as Heritage Coast. These non-statutory designations complement the AONB and cover approximately 50 kms (31 miles) of the coastline. The sections of Heritage Coast are:
- North Anglesey 28.6kms (17 miles)
- Holyhead Mountain 12.9kms (8 miles)
- Aberffraw Bay 7.7kms (4.5 miles)
A living and working landscape
Employment within the AONB is mainly based on agriculture and tourism and in some cases a combination of both. The range of local produce found on the island is quite varied from cheese and chocolate to wine. In a number of instances the local produce is also organic.
Approximately 2 million people visit the island each year attracting people from North Wales the North West of England and also visitors from overseas. In terms of recreation the island offers a number of opportunities to both residents and visitors alike, the majority enjoying the fine sandy beaches and the coastal landscape.
The most popular forms of recreation include sailing, angling, cycling, walking and wind surfing. These all place pressures and demands on the AONB. At the same time, the AONBs popularity for such activities clearly provides a contribution to the local economy.