About Us

The Isle of Wight has many different types of countryside and for centuries people have been drawn to its idyllic peaceful way of life.

About half of the Island is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – a treasured place where the landscape is protected, conserved and enhanced for future generations.

Isle of Wight AONB is a Non-Governmental organisation with the purpose of conserving and enhancing the Isle of Wight’s finest landscapes.

Heritage Coasts

Heritage Coasts represent stretches of our most beautiful, undeveloped coastline, which are managed to conserve their natural beauty and, where appropriate, to improve accessibility for visitors.

Isle of Wight Heritage Coasts

In 1974 two areas of Heritage Coast were defined on the Isle of Wight, covering half the Island’s coastline. In 1992, the decision was taken to incorporate issues relating to Heritage Coasts and the AONB into one overall Isle of Wight AONB Management Plan.


The Hamstead Heritage Coast is situated on the north west of the Isle of Wight running from Thorness near Cowes to Bouldnor near Yarmouth. A tranquil and secretive coastline with inlets, estuaries and creeks; wooded hinterland and gently sloping soft cliffs, this beautiful area offers a haven for wildlife including Red Squirrels and migratory birds. The ancient town of Newtown and its National Nature Reserve also fall within this area.


In marked contrast, the Tennyson Heritage Coast is breathtaking, with an open aspect; long distance views to the English Channel; a special quality of light; the iconic Needles chalk stacks and other multi-coloured cliffs; a fossil rich coastline including the well known dinosaur footprints at Brook Bay; miles of undeveloped coastline and unspoilt beaches; important wildlife habitats; smugglers and memories of past Islanders; Chines and lighthouses.


Isle of Wight AONB is, in planning terms, equivalent to a National Park, having the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty. Isle of Wight AONB works to promote sustainable forms of social and economic development, which conserve and enhance the designation.


The planning process is the main regulator of development pressure within the AONB. Isle of Wight AONB’s Management Plan is a material consideration in planning. Isle of Wight AONB is a consultee on any proposals which require planning consent within the AONB, or influencing it. These applications will be considered by Isle of Wight AONB’s Planning Officer and any comments to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) can be found on their website. Any proposals not dealt with by the LPA, are submitted directly to those determining bodies and comments are again, publicly available.


The AONB Planning Officer also offers pre-application advice for anyone wishing to develop or undertake any works within the AONB. All advice is without prejudice to any planning applications submitted in the future, pending site visits and additional issues and information.


For Planning advice please contact the AONB Planning Officer: Mrs Nicky Downer 01983 823855

Current Research Projects

Coastal Biosphere - Kelp, seagrass and Thorness Marshes Coastal Realignment

Thorness Bay

The Isle of Wight AONB are working with local landowners, Arc Consultants and Environment Agency on the managed realignment project at Thorness Marshes to allow sea water flooding of wetland habitats previously protected by an old sea wall.



Kelp and Seagrass

The Isle of Wight AONB is working with University of Portsmouth into the distribution of seagrass and kelp on the Channel coast (Tennyson Heritage Coast) to investigate their contribution to carbon sequestration and opportunities for restoration and enhancement of these marine habitats. 


UNESCO Sites Across the Channel

UNESCO Sites Across the Channel – A new model of sustainable tourism

We are thrilled to announce a new project to further develop sustainable tourism opportunities using the UNESCO Biosphere reserve designation for the Isle of Wight.

This exciting new project aims to expand on the wonderful UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve status for the Isle of Wight, including the Island’s Heritage Coasts . It will develop new sustainable tourism initiatives that celebrate and protect our natural and cultural assets while benefitting the local economy. The project will include a series of events in 2021, 2022 and 2023. This new project runs from 2021-2023 and is funded by the EU Interreg Channel programme of the European Regional Development Fund. 

For more information: 



Creative Biosphere

Following an award from Arts Council England and the adoption of the National AONB ‘Art in the Landscape’ policies, the IWAONB launched its Creative Biosphere Project.


Working with the Island Collection and Isle of Wight Cultural Education Partnership five partners have employed six artists to work with six of the Island’s high schools. These year-long collaborations will increase awareness of the importance of the Island’s landscape, culture and wildlife through the strong creative industry on the Island.


Partners on this project are: Brading Roman Villa, Independent Arts, New Carnival Company, Quay Arts and Ventnor Exchange.


Farm Clusters - East Yar and South Wight

Two farmer clusters now operate on the Island, in the Eastern Yar catchment and the South Wight involving 35 farmers and landowners. Regular meetings are coordinated by the AONB with talks on a variety of issues emerging from central Government. This work was recognised by the NFU this year A third cluster is in development in the southwest of the Island.


Farm in Protected Landscapes

The Defra-funded Farming in Protected Landscapes programme will be opened in July 2021. The programme can support Farming in the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. For more information about the programme and how it will work follow the link: Farming in Protected Landscapes – Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (wightaonb.org.uk)

Crossing the Bar

Isle of Wight AONB was pleased to sponsor this autumn celebration of the accessible coast with the New Carnival Company and IW Ramblers. Thirteen walks were arranged in six locations with 276 participants and four schools.

Welcome Back Walks 2021

A programme of 24 walks were conducted by five partners from May to July 2021. Subjects included food and drink, local history, landscape and wildlife for both children and adults alike. Over 250 people attended the walks with good feedback being received. We will repeat this programme in 2022.

Welcome Back Walks 2022

Two programmes of forty walks were conducted by five partners from June / July and November 22 to February 2023. Subjects included local history, landscape and wildlife for both children and adults alike. Over 425 people attended the walks with good feedback being received. A digital audience of over 10,000 was recorded.

Welcome Back Walks 2023

Our summer walks programme continues in 2023. View the programme and book your FREE place today – https://www.wightaonb.org.uk/whats-happening/welcome-back-walks/  

IW UNESCO Biosphere Reserve - iwbiosphere.org

The Isle of Wight is a pocket version of southern England. The Island has everything you could possibly need: from blustery downs filled with water to secretive salt marshes teaming with life; from Victorian beachside resorts to wild surf strewn beaches. It is a magnificent place to live, work and play, with splendid wildlife. For more information: www.iwbiosphere.org 





  • Isle Spy
  • Isle Spy Mini Series
  • Colouring Sheets

Historic Environment Action Plan

The Historic Environment Action Plan provides a series of documents to help conserve and study the Island’s historic environment.


The nature and scale of the Isle of Wight AONB designation warrants representatives from many local, regional and national organisations and individuals working together with the common overall aim of conserving and enhancing the area. This common aim is best delivered through partnership. The Isle of Wight AONB Partnership was formed in April 2002, and is funded by DEFRA.



The Partnership is comprised of three distinct groups:

Steering committee

The role of the Steering Committee is to act as a catalyst and facilitator in implementing Isle of Wight AONB policies. The Committee also manages and allocates resources and steers, develops and supports initiatives to help enhance and conserve the AONB.

Advisory group

The Isle of Wight AONB Advisory Group membership represents the wider interest of stakeholders within the AONB, and provides a way for partners to become involved in the future vision and management of this valued asset.

Open forum group

The Open Forum Group includes organisations and individuals with an interest in the management of our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Meet the Team

The staff arm of the Isle of Wight AONB Partnership is the AONB Unit. The Unit is hosted by the Isle of Wight Council and is housed within the Planning Services section of the Environment and Neighbourhoods Directorate.