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Guidance for land managers

Small changes to how you manage land can make a big difference to habitat connectivity and the wider biodiversity.

Making changes on a small scale

You will likely make land management decisions only about land for which you’re directly responsible. This area of land may be relatively small, yet habitat networks must usually be implemented across a whole landscape to be effective. So you may find that you’re one piece of a much bigger ‘jigsaw’.

Each land manager plays a vital part. Small changes to how you manage land can make a big difference to habitat connectivity. And your area of land may well be significant – even if it’s not a designated site.

A landscape’s connectivity isn’t just about creating new habitat. Increasingly, it’s also about making existing core areas more robust and the land around them more permeable.

Financial support

Policymakers in the Scottish Government and in other public bodies know that land managers play a crucial role in helping to implement habitat networks. Financial incentives to encourage you to take action are offered through grant schemes like the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP).

Structural connectivity at a larger scale

If you’re responsible for a large estate, you may wish to establish a habitat network across an entire landscape.

It’s usually easy to create a network with structural connections. Some species will almost certainly use these physical links, and creating additional habitat will likely benefit the area’s wider biodiversity.

How to create structural connections

  1. Observe the landscape around you and use maps, aerial photographs and your own site knowledge to understand what habitats are present.
  2. Look for gaps between core areas of habitat across the full extent of the land that you manage.
  3. Join habitat patches by adding a physical link made of a similar habitat – e.g. plant a hedge between two separate areas of woodland.

Investing in functional connectivity

Creating a network with functional connectivity for specific species will take more planning but can provide a range of benefits.

You may wish to consider creating a functional network if you:

  • have clear ideas about the type of network you’d like to create
  • know which habitats and species you want to safeguard and enhance
  • want to develop a network which also has socio-economic benefits – e.g. a green network that offers open space for recreation

Mapping a functional network usually requires a great deal of data and relies on computer modelling.

Natura sites

If you manage land within or near to a Natura 2000 site, you can get in touch to discuss whether there are any actions you can take to benefit the site. Find out how to contact us.

SRDP also seeks to improve the status of the special features found on designated sites and nature reserves, particularly Natura sites.