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Beyond landscape designation: Innovative funding, delivery and governance and the UK protected area system

Richard Clarke (Westminster Business School, University of Westminster, London, UK)

Management of Environmental Quality

ISSN: 1477-7835

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




In Europe, as in other developed regions of the world, formal protected areas (PA) are, almost by definition, conservation islands within a wider landscape of intensive farming, towns, industry and transport links. The recognised need for “more, bigger, better and joined” implies the need for complementary approaches. The purpose of this paper is to examine some innovative funding and delivery mechanisms in the UK and their strengths – and weaknesses – compared to the formal system of PA.


Building on recent research undertaken for the UK Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) the HLF landscape partnership (LP) programme is described and related to other area-based approaches including the Wildlife Trust’s Living Landscapes, the Futurescapes programme of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the UK government’s Nature Improvement Areas (NIA).


LPs represent an increasingly important vehicle for securing conservation of the natural and cultural heritage alongside the formal system of designated PA. Their reliance upon local initiative, community engagement and multi-agency participation presents significant advantages. The strength of the LP approach is that it is “bottom up” and in some ways opportunistic.

Practical implications

Non-tax funding of innovative approaches to landscape governance presents significant opportunity for natural and cultural heritage conservation, particularly in their capacity to mobilise local enthusiasm and support. However, it fits also with neo-liberal approaches which seek to transfer to the “third sector” responsibilities previously the province of local and national government.


This paper is one of a very limited number of studies of developed-country LPs. It widens the concept of “PA” beyond formal IUCN categories and indicates the potential for innovations in funding and governance.



Boundary data in Figure 1 is presented courtesy of the UK country agencies (Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Department of Environment Northern Ireland, Figure 1(a) Defra (Figure 1(b)), the RSNC (Figure 1(c)) and the RSPB (Figure 1(d)). Data used for Figure 2 were supplied primarily by individual LPs and assembled by the author under HLF contract NHM000365 with maps for new (2013 award) LPs courtesy of Ian Cade; data for Figure 3 were assembled under contract NHM000241, in both cases presented here by permission of HLF. The author thanks David Mount and Marija Anterić for helpful discussions and for comments on a draft and to two anonymous referees for considered and constructive suggestions.


Clarke, R. (2015), "Beyond landscape designation: Innovative funding, delivery and governance and the UK protected area system", Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 172-194.



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