Simon's Blog: It should be tranquil
A couple of weeks ago I had a camping weekend in one the nationally designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in the east of England. One of the things that was so enjoyable about the weekend was the tranquillity.
Tranquillity is a term that is often used in the world of AONBs. Indeed, relative tranquillity is one of the factors cited in identifying areas for as worthy of AONB status. It is often quoted by developers and objectors when discussing controversial planning applications. However, what it meant to me on that precious weekend was a perception of calm and a place for wildlife.
As dusk came in the we watched a barn owl hunting over a meadow that during the day we had seen Buzzards soaring above. As the evening progressed the bats started their spectacular flight around the woodland edge. This was much appreciated because as well as providing a superb spectacle I assumed they were eating the insects that apparently found me irresistible to bite. My family were of course delighted to be informed that bats are the only mammal that are capable of true flight and are highly adapted to catch their prey.
As the evening progressed and darkness fell we observed the stars, albeit for a relatively short time, a weather front coming in with associated clouds. I woke the next morning to the lowing of cattle in an adjacent field, a reminder of the agricultural character of much of our countryside. The interaction with the natural world improves my feeling of well-being and countless studies indicate that I am not alone in this.
Tranquillity is a huge factor for AONBs. As well as enhancing the experience for humans, which in this instance in refers to noise, light and a natural landscape, it can have a huge impact upon our wildlife, well-being and economy. The economy in Suffolk and north Essex benefits hugely from visitors and tourism. So, as well as protecting the special qualities of the AONBs and associated wildlife and landscapes for their own sake, we should also protect them for our economic prosperity.
First published in the East Anglian Daily Times August 2017