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Guidance for managers of conservation land and greenspace

Even if your main focus is managing your site, the land could form a core area within a habitat network.

Legislation: constraints and opportunities

The Habitats Directive focuses on the ecological coherence of Natura 2000 sites, while the Scottish Planning Policy requires open space areas to be protected and enhanced.

So it makes sense to consider how the site you manage could be part of a wider habitat network or green network.

The most suitable type of network will likely depend on the species or habitats of concern within your site as well as any other benefits you want to achieve. For example, a green network could also provide opportunities for people to walk or cycle to your site rather than drive.

Mapping and implementing

Some networks already modelled in Scotland may be relevant to your site.

Networks already modelled in Scotland include:

Maps that show core areas and potential locations for habitat creation or land management changes may already exist for network areas. You can access and take these maps into account when making site management decisions.

Changes in land management may be required to implement these networks. You may need to make changes on your own site, but it’s just as possible that changes will relate to land managed by your immediate neighbours.

You should aim to promote land management changes, and the concept of networks itself, to other local land managers. This can help to ensure that networks are put in place on the ground. For example, you may be able to help other land managers to obtain grants for habitat creation or land management changes, to help implement a habitat network around your site.

The Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) Rural Priorities scheme values collaboration. Applications that show how land managers will work together to join up areas of habitat are more likely to receive funding.

Starting from scratch

If none of the networks already planned for Scotland involve your site, you may need to start the process from scratch yourself.

You must consider the species and/or habitats you’re trying to protect and enhance (plus any relevant green network elements). This will ensure that you tailor the network to their specific needs.

You may already hold useful data for modelling a network – e.g. species records for the surrounding area, or a map of local paths that connect to an area of greenspace.

Once a network has been modelled and maps produced, you can work with other local land managers to implement the network on the ground. You should work outwards from your core site.

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.