Twinflower (Linnaea borealis)©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

Planning and development: biodiversity

Planners and developers have a big part to play in helping to protect and enhance Scotland’s biodiversity.

Biodiversity – the variety of life on Earth – sustains the living networks and systems that allow nature to thrive and which give us so many benefits. Not only do we get products like food and timber from nature. There are also the indirect benefits such as health and well-being.

While some human activity has benefited biodiversity, much of it has resulted in reduced biodiversity. Today, biodiversity in Scotland is threatened by climate change, pollution, development and habitat loss.

What planners and developers must do

Good development in the right places can help to protect and enhance Scotland’s biodiversity. Planning authorities, like all public bodies, have a legal duty to further the conservation of biodiversity.

Planning for biodiversity may include:

  • ensuring that development plans and development management decisions reflect the need to conserve biodiversity
  • seeking ways for new developments to benefit Scotland’s biodiversity – e.g. by restoring degraded habitats

Developers should consider natural heritage interests, including impacts on biodiversity, from the start of the development process. Planning authorities may be able to provide specific guidance on how to do this.

Ecological surveys and mitigation must also be carried out at the right time of year. To avoid delays, make sure you factor these into your development schedule at the correct time.

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More information

Find out more about Scotland’s biodiversity and how to better build biodiversity into your development plans and proposals: