Visitor management

We work with the SAC Partnership, landowners, visitor attractions, recreation user groups and visitor-related businesses to:

Make sure that the AONB can be enjoyed sustainably.
Encouraging visitors to tread lightly in the Chase.
Providing a greener experience for visitors.

A major appeal of the AONB is the opportunity that it provides to enjoy the open air and the peace and tranquillity.  This is made possible by an extensive network of rides and paths (including sections of a number of longer distance paths) and the large areas of land over which people can freely roam.

We aim to ensure that people of all abilities can enjoy the outstanding landscape offered by Cannock Chase AONB in ways that protect its special qualities.  We want to encourage people to act responsibly in the countryside and to respect other users.

The high population of the surrounding conurbations mean that recreational demands within the AONB are high and placing a strain on the visitor infrastructure as well as the special qualities of the AONB itself.  2.3 million visited the AONB in 2010/11, up from an estimated 1.3 million in 2000.  The number of visitors is expected to carry on rising as a result of the significant increases in new housing being proposed nearby.  Soil erosion, disturbance to wildlife, loss of tranquillity and reduced visitor experience are some of the consequences.

Visitor management

In 2020 the SAC Partnership published proposals for reducing  the negative impacts of recreation on the internationally important wildlife sites and species on Cannock Chase and improving the visitor experience by reviewing visitor facilities and activities. The AONB Partnership set out its views on the recommendations in a Position Statement published in September 2020. It believes that the proposals offer a way forward to provide for the future growth in recreational use of Cannock Chase whilst safeguarding the area’s special landscape, wildlife and heritage interests. In coming to this view, the Joint Committee considered a number of factors including:

  • Annual visitor numbers to Cannock Chase currently exceed 2.5 million, and are expected to rise to nearly 3 million a year over the next decade.
  • The AONB already has by far the highest density of visitors of any protected landscape in the UK, for example, it receives more than between 4-5 times the density of visitors than the Lake District National Park.
  • Analysis of information from planning authorities in the area shows an anticipated 30,564 additional homes will be built within 10 miles of Cannock Chase by 2032.
  • An ‘inevitable’ increase in visitors sparked by house building must be managed to protect Cannock Chase’s vulnerable landscape and wildlife.
  • Up to £7.8 million of developer funded contributions could be available to deliver future plans to improve trails, invest in more way signs and interpretation boards, provide conservation education to children and manage where people park by closing some parking areas in vulnerable parts of the Chase and creating more parking spaces, including free ones, in the more robust areas.

The AONB Partnership will now support the landowners and SAC Partnership to deliver the recommendations.

Bringing Cannock Chase to life

The rich natural and cultural heritage of Cannock Chase can often be hidden. Bringing it to life is important in helping visitors to understand the importance of this wonderful place, so that they will be encouraged to care for it.

A new place brand for Cannock Chase has been developed to help with this. It tells the story of what makes Cannock Chase special in words and pictures. A new place brand logo captures the open landscape, freedom and sense of tranquillity of the Chase. Alongside the place brand is A Sense of Place toolkit, specially created for the benefit of local businesses who share our vision of protecting and enhancing a vulnerable place of great natural beauty. Over time, the place brand will gradually be applied to interpretation, signage, posters and other publicity.