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Cornish Landscape

What makes the Cornish landscape so special?

The Cornish landscape is the backdrop to our daily lives. We often take it for granted, and it is only when something changes that we realise how much we value it. Many people find it hard to say why the landscape means so much to them. For some it’s a view, others its Cornish hedges, or swallows in summer. It's all about what makes our local area distinctive and unique, and how and what we enjoy outdoors.

Landscape brings together the relationship between people and place, and describes for instance:

  • geology beneath our feet, and how this determines the soil type and plant life
  • diverse natural habitats on the coast and inland
  • the cultural history associated with mining for tin, copper and China Clay
  • Cornish hedge and field patterns that evidence past uses of the land
  • places which have inspired authors and painters

It is important to understand and record the many reasons why the Cornish landscape is valued. This could be to manage the impact of changes in the landscape over time and to prioritise and deal with local issues. Or to simply celebrate the local environment as a whole. It also highlights the pressures associated with new development and land management issues.

Landscape character assessment in Cornwall

Landscape character assessment is a process to methodically describe the landscape we see around us. There are three levels of character assessment in Cornwall:

  • National Character Area Profiles
    These six ‘Profiles’ describe the landscape at a national scale
  • Cornwall Character Area description
    A greater level of local detail than in the National Character Areas. Here the landscape character is described through 44 Cornwall Character Areas (CCAs) and 19 Landscape Character Types (LCTs).
  • Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Management Plan
    Provides guidance to ensure the conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of 30% of Cornwall. Covered by the AONB designation
  • Areas of Great Landscape Value
    A recognition of landscapes of high quality and value that merit local or regional designation

Many Parish and Town Councils have written local landscape assessments as part of their Neighbourhood Development Plan.  These provide evidence base documents for their plans, with the greatest level of landscape detail. 

Character assessments:

  • help people to understand landscape change. Helping them make decisions about the places in which they live and care for
  • inform planning policy, and provide valuable evidence to guide planning decisions
  • guide land management. This can be in the delivery of nature recovery networks. Or the planning of large-scale conservation projects and Environmental Land Management schemes

You can read any of the 44 Character Area descriptions using the Landscape Character Assessment mapping below.
View the Cornwall landscape character assessment map

How to navigate the map

  • Open the Landscape character layer.  The 44 Character Areas will be displayed.
  • Select the Character Area on the map and a box with a hyperlink will pop up to the Character Area description.

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