Nature Networks - Supporting information for ensuring projects contribute to Nature Networks
Nature Networks form an important part of our approach to tackling the climate and nature crisis. The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy to 2045 and National Planning Framework 4 set the policy framework required to create a Nature Network in every local authority area. The draft Nature Network Framework and Interim Guidance for Nature Networks set out the principles by which Nature Networks will be developed in Scotland.
The Scottish Government has provided an additional £5 million capital funding with a view to Local Authorities beginning to develop projects which will contribute to establishing Nature Networks in their area.
Early work on Nature Networks should set Local Authorities up to have a spatially defined Nature Network, connecting important areas for biodiversity, by 2030. Local Authorities should look to review plans, policy and strategies which their nature network can contribute to, review existing data and identify new sources and begin early engagement with key stakeholders and local communities. It is recognised that in many areas there is not yet a spatially defined Nature Network to guide where projects should be prioritised. This short guide sets out key considerations that can be used to ensure that projects under development in this funding round can still contribute to the development of Nature Networks.
Considerations for projects
Funding for Nature Networks should look to fund projects that deliver at least one of the outcomes listed below, prioritising those which meet multiple outcomes.
Improve connectivity between protected areas/ areas of existing good quality habitat.
This includes projects that create new habitat corridors or stepping-stones, and those that restore or improve areas of degraded habitat to improve connectivity. Ensure consideration is given to creating or restoring habitat which is appropriate to the connection you wish to create, for example grassland habitat to connect grassland protected areas etc. Projects should look to either;
- Connect sites contributing towards 30 by 30
- Connect biodiversity across the peri-urban area, from rural into urban.
If you are within the Central Scotland Green Network area, you can make use of the CSGN Habitat Connectivity tool to help locate opportunity areas for habitat connectivity.
Expand or improve existing high quality habitat, particularly outwith existing Protected Areas.
Protecting what we have and improving the quality of existing sites and areas of habitat will benefit nature. As the primary aim of this funding is to create a Nature Network, projects should particularly focus on creating connections between protected areas. Buffering existing sites can help increase their overall size and provide a transition between higher and lower nature value habitats.
Prioritise projects which deliver multiple benefits
As well as improving biodiversity connectivity, Nature Networks can achieve multiple co-benefits for local communities, including provision of high quality green and blue spaces for health and recreation, active travel networks, flood risk mitigation, cleaner waterways, cleaner air, and sustainable local food production. They can also help deliver targets contained in plans, policies and strategies such as LBAPs. Working with local communities to identify Nature Networks and deliver projects which contribute to them will help address local needs and objectives in support of national outcomes for nature and people.
In some areas, there may already be priorities identified which projects can contribute to, for example the Edinburgh Nature Network. Prioritise projects which contribute to these schemes.
Consider the spatial scale
Where possible, focus on creating larger scale connections, which are likely to be more robust than narrow strips of habitat. Corridors that have a diverse range of habitats will serve a wider range of species. In contexts where space is restricted (e.g. urban environments, intense agriculture), focus on projects which improve the permeability of the matrix and allow for movement between sites.
Where possible build on connections at the local level and look at opportunities to deliver strategic connectivity regionally, across administrative boundaries to ensure strong connectivity across landscapes, larger-scale features and areas of importance, such as National Parks or river catchments. Working regionally enables the connection of neighbouring local Nature Networks, further increasing the ability for dispersal, strengthening populations and improving their resilience to pressures.
In rural areas landscape scale networks may be possible, comprising multiple habitat types and land uses. In urban environments, opportunities for connectivity are likely to smaller, including watercourses, green and blue spaces and other nature-based solutions to improve permeability through the environment and connection to the wider countryside.
- Does this project help make or strengthen strategic connections?
- Does this project protect, enhance and or expand existing nature-rich areas?
- Does this project help to enhance biodiversity in the local area?
- Does this project have any possible negative effects (for example reducing connectivity of a different habitat type?).
- Does this project engage local people and have buy-in from stakeholders?
- Does this project contribute to other environmental objectives or priorities?
- Nature Network Framework
- Nature Networks - Interim guidance for Local Authorities
- Site Link provides access to data and information on key Protected Areas across Scotland.
- Scotland’s Environment Web website brings together environmental information and data in one place so that is easy to search, discover, analyse and interpret.
- Central Scotland Green Network Habitat connectivity tool