The value of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to the local economy is the subject of a new research survey being undertaken by the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

Working on behalf of the Board, Cotswolds-based firm Cumulus Consultants are asking businesses across all industry sectors throughout the Cotswolds for their views on how being located in the AONB makes a difference to their business. The results of the research will be presented at the Board’s Annual Forum on 1 March and will be used to help identify opportunities whereby the AONB and the local business sector can work together for mutual benefit.

Martin Lane, Director at Cotswolds Conservation Board, explains:

“The Cotswolds AONB has long been valued for its high quality landscape and environment, yet its economic worth is less well understood. There is a growing body of research undertaken in other areas that has shown the contribution a high quality environment can make to economic well-being in rural areas and demonstrates how a healthy natural environment and a healthy rural economy often go hand in hand.

We are keen to look at the association between economy and environment in the Cotswolds and identify actions that can be taken in the future to strengthen the links between the two.”

Early research* into this area as part of this project has revealed that:

There are 9,450 businesses with 54,400 employees in the Cotswolds AONB.

95% of businesses in the AONB are located in rural areas
Micro-businesses, employing 1-9 people, account for 69% of businesses and 33% of business employment – double the average for the South West region as a whole.
16% of the population aged between 16 and 74 is self-employed – double the national average.

The survey for businesses is open until 25 January and can be accessed by going to:

Defra 2012, Cotswolds AONB Economic Profile. Data from Inter-departmental Business Register.
CACI Ltd Demographics, 2012.

· Cumulus Consultants Ltd is a specialist consultancy working in the land and environment sector. For more information contact Paul Silcock. Tel: 01386 584950 Email: [email protected]. Website:

· The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape.

· The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members – 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.

· The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.

· Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas. There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland. For further details, visit:

Source: Cotswolds Conservation Board