England is renowned for its rich, diverse and beautiful landscapes which have their own distinct local character. These have been shaped over many thousands of years by natural influences such as soil and landform and by generations of human activity.
Our landscapes extend from the upland hills to the lowlands, through the urban fringe and into the networks of green space of our cities, towns and villages, and on to our varied coastal seascapes.
England's natural environment consists of a wide range of landscapes that have been formed by a number of factors. These range from natural influences (underlying geology, landform, soils, climate, habitats and biodiversity) through to human influence (historical and current land uses, settlement patterns and human interventions), both past and present.
The way people think about and perceive landscapes is important, and it influences the way we understand and use them.
Each landscape type is valued by people for a variety of reasons and has a character defined by its own patterns of landforms, habitats and land use, which create local distinctiveness.
"From the sweeping stretches of sandy coast in Northumberland to the high peaks of Helvellyn and Scafell Pike in the Lake District, from the rolling hills of the South Downs to the granite cliffs of the Cornish coast, the English landscape is immensely varied and distinctive."
(Source: The English Landscape, Profile Books, 2000)
Local distinctiveness not only reflects the natural, historical and cultural diversity of English landscapes but also constitutes a unique resource that can contribute to improve people's wellbeing and prosperity. For example, it can help people connect agricultural products with their origins and may help link people's health with that of the landscape.