Describing and understanding our landscape

A planning and land management tool that details the sustainable management of the countryside, coast and settlements.

The North Yorkshire and York Landscape character assessment provides a reference document for everyone interested in the sustainable management of the countryside, coast and settlements and is intended as a planning and land management tool.

Landscape character assessment is a way of describing and understanding landscape and the influences that have helped to shape it. The European landscape convention emphasises all landscapes are of value, not just the 'best' bits, and 'an accessible and integrated approach is needed to shaping and managing landscape change'.

North Yorkshire and York's landscape character

Explore North Yorkshire and York's landscape character in the following reports:

You can also explore the landscape character on a map

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Landscape change and evolution

Retaining character and managing landscape change

North Yorkshire is blessed with an abundance of scenic and beautiful landscapes which are nationally designated. Over many years, the county council, the National Park Authorities and the managers of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have been committed to successfully retaining their special qualities. The City of York and many North Yorkshire townscapes are also nationally valued.

The pace and scale of landscape change will continue in the future. The North Yorkshire and York landscape character assessment can support action to manage and direct change in a positive way through better understanding of local landscapes and the forces that influence them.

Evolution of the landscape

The present day landscapes of North Yorkshire and York are a product of the physical and human influences that have shaped their basic structure and appearance. In particular, the underlying geology and the processes of erosion and deposition by ice and water have had a profound effect, influencing not only landform, soils and vegetation communities, but also the human activities dependent upon or affected by them.

In turn, human activity has been superimposed on the foundations of the natural landscape, changing natural vegetation patterns to suit human needs and introducing man-made elements into the landscape, a process that has increased greatly in recent times.

View the North Yorkshire and York report on managing landscape change for more detailed information.