Dunwich Heath © Malcolm Farrow

Our Landscape

As the name suggests, the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB is an outstanding landscape. Extending from the Stour estuary in the south to Kessingland in the north, it is a low-lying coastal area of astonishing variety. Indeed, it comes as something of a surprise to leave the open arable landscapes usually associated with East Anglia and enter a world of subtle but fascinating contrasts – the mix of shingle beaches, crumbling cliffs, marshes, estuaries, heathland, forests and farmland that makes the AONB so special.

A source of inspiration to countless artists, writers and musicians, the AONB is a landscape rich in history but largely spared from modern development. The countryside, towns and villages in the AONB have an unspoilt and tranquil atmosphere, and a distinctive character. This was recognised in 1970 when the area was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - a landscape status equal to a National Park. It is now one of 46 AONBs within England, Wales and Northern Ireland. To find out about the UK’s other AONBs, visit the National Association of AONBs (NAAONB) website Landscapes for Life

A great place for wildlife…

Landscapes of scenic beauty, that are relatively undeveloped, are often good for wildlife. One of the most noticeable features of the AONB is the richness of its wildlife habitats. Few places can match the sheer variety to be found here: heathland; reedbed; ancient woodland and modern commercial forestry; saltmarsh; estuaries; shingle beaches and crumbling sandy cliffs. It is this mixture of habitats and their proximity to one another that gives rise to the wildlife value of the area. These habitats are home to many species of wildlife that are scarce or absent elsewhere, but thriving within the AONB. This is because the geology and the associated land cover, natural processes, and human interaction over millennia has made the AONB very distinctive – to the point that some of our wildlife, such as heathland, vegetated shingle and reedbed  flora and fauna does not occur in many other places. 

…and for people

Whether you are a visitor or a local resident, the AONB has much to offer. The quiet towns and villages, attractive countryside and unspoilt coast make it a popular holiday destination as well as a great place to live and work. There are many recreational opportunities and the area boasts a thriving economy. As we enjoy the area we need to tread lightly, as the AONB is a landscape to cherish and we can all play a part in helping to conserve this special place.

Follow the links on the right hand side of this page for an introduction to the AONB landscape and some of the special qualities to be found here.

Landscapes for life link image