DISTRICT chiefs have backed proposals to further safeguard the future of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Purbeck District Council (PDC) members agreed to adopt the latest Dorset AONB management plan, at their last full council meeting.

There have been three management plans produced by Dorset AONB Partnership to date, commencing in 2004 and each having a fixed five year duration.

This latest document, which outlines key concepts underpinning the AONB management, covers up until 2024.

Writing the forward, Dorset AONB Partnership chairman Jim White said: "The time this plan takes affect is one of great flux: Brexit on a national scale and Dorset's nine local authorities becoming two unitary authorities.

"Now, however, the policy background for the natural environment is stronger than it has been for years."

AONBs are nationally important protected landscapes, sharing the highest level of protection with 13 National Parks.

Dorset is one of 46 AONBs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Along with National Parks, AONBs are protected in the national interest for future generations.

Key concepts in the plan adopted by Purbeck councillors include sustainable development, natural capital and the ecosystem approach.

The principles of the ecosystem approach are:

n The natural systems that operate within the AONB are complex and dynamic, and their healthy functioning should not be taken for granted.

n Those that live, work and visit the AONB benefit from services provided by the natural environment. These services underpin social and economic wellbeing and have a value –both monetary and non-monetary.

n Those that benefit from the services provided by the AONB and those who are involved in the management of them should play a central role in making decisions about them.

Mr White said: "Notwithstanding the resources at the disposal of the AONB Partnership, achieving the vision and meeting the objectives of this plan requires more than an adherence to the statutory duty of local authorities, agencies and utility companies.

"It requires buy-in and effort from the very widest of partnerships – all people, agencies, land managers and other businesses with an interest or a stake in this very special place."