The Cyrenians Community Garden at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

Creating sustainable places for well-being

Sustainable places feature well-managed greenspaces, enhance people’s quality of life and support a strong economy.

Sustainable places foster a strong connection between people and place, and encourage people to get involved in looking after their local environment.

For a greener, healthier Scotland, development planning and management must promote and safeguard green networks, greenspace and outdoor access.

We want to see:

  • a better and more attractive environment for people to live and work in, with accessible, well-managed greenspace
  • better places and facilities for people to enjoy the outdoors – in both rural and urban areas
  • a network of paths for recreation and travel close to where people live
  • people getting involved in how the places and landscapes around them are managed by volunteering and via community initiatives
  • new development and land use that enhances regional distinctiveness and sense of place

Our approach

Scottish Natural Heritage set up Greenspace Scotland to champion thinking and good practice on greenspace provision and management.

We work with urban local authorities to help them to map their greenspace and improve the quality of local environments, e.g. through the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Green Network.

Scotland’s Greenspace Map lets planners, developers and others see the current scale of Scotland’s urban greenspace.

On a wider scale, SNH is helping to make the central belt’s green and blue spaces more accessible by supporting the Central Scotland Green Network. Open-air recreation not only keeps us fit and well, it’s also a big part of our nation’s economy.

Better places for people and nature

We also contribute to the Scottish Government’s aims to create better and more sustainable places:

  • where people want to live and work
  • which promote better physical and mental health
  • which enable the transition to a low-carbon economy

We set out how the natural heritage can help to achieve these outcomes – and the part SNH has to play – in Better places for people and nature.

High quality natural environments are vital to the creation of better places. Nature and landscapes around where we live and work can:

  • enhance our quality of life
  • boost individual health and well-being
  • add to our sense of place and identity
  • support a strong economy

Improving the natural heritage in settlements to benefit people and nature calls for communities and the public and private sectors to join forces.

Regeneration of degraded areas

Communities can suffer if the natural heritage around them is neglected, polluted, derelict or contaminated. Improving the quality of the environment can be a key step towards raising an area’s socio-economic outlook.

SNH works with communities and individuals to help them make use of, value and improve their natural heritage. Our efforts focus on the areas of greatest socio-economic disadvantage, where we know we can make a difference.

To do this, we:

  • ensure that development plans and Single Outcome Agreements provide for accessible, good quality natural areas close to housing
  • support the Central Scotland Green Network
  • deliver support for community action through the Scottish Rural Development Programme – especially LEADER
  • help people to develop ownership of their surroundings and useful skills by working with others to offer volunteering opportunities
  • work with social enterprises to help communities to build up the confidence to develop their local area themselves