Nature Networks explained

Background on Nature Networks to help inform the co-design of Scotland's Nature Network framework

A Nature Network is effectively just a network that connects nature-rich sites, restoration areas, and other environmental projects through a series of areas of suitable habitat, habitat corridors and stepping-stones. As well as supporting regional and national approaches to protect and restore nature, they provide local benefits to wildlife and people.

Connectivity is an essential part of nature. It is necessary for functioning and healthy ecosystems, key for the survival of animal and plant species, and is crucial to ensuring genetic diversity and adaptation to pressures such as climate change.  

To ensure Scotland's nature can thrive, nature-rich areas must be connected through a series of networks linking them all together. 

The challenge

Nature Networks are a commitment of the 2021 Programme for Government, noted as a key component in increasing ecological connectivity and restoration of nature across Scotland. 

This aligns with the EU Biodiversity Strategy which proposes to integrate ecological corridors, as part of a Trans-European Nature Network.

This project is being developed alongside that of the 30x30 target and is key in the delivery of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy and contributing to the wider Environmental Strategy. Effective delivery of this framework will significantly contribute towards tackling the nature and climate emergency. 

Current state 

Scotland is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. One of the key drivers for biodiversity loss is land-use change where, over time, habitats have been lost and increasingly fragmented. This fragmentation means that the remaining habitats are often isolated and unconnected and as a result they are less resilient, often in poor health, and struggle to support healthy populations of the species that normally rely on them. If we are to reverse declines in biodiversity, it is vital to address this by developing a robust network for nature.  


Through a co-design approach, we will develop and publish a National Framework setting a clear vision, principles and approach to delivery of Nature Networks in Scotland. This will be supported by a toolbox to support and enable those on the ground to implement local networks. Contribute local priorities and initiatives whilst ensuring that they contribute to a strategic, national nature network and principles. This will include protected areas, other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) and strategic landscape-scale projects.

A drawing showing core areas of habitat, some with a buffer zone around them and with differing methods of connection be it linear corridor, landscape corridor or stepping stone corridor

The typical component of a terrestrial ecological network. Source: Lawton et al.,2010.


Nature Networks will support the 30x30 targets to help improve Scotland’s biodiversity and defend against the climate crisis. They will help preserve the integrity of ecosystems on which we all depend, provide safe havens to help wildlife move as it adapts to climate change and other pressures, and help improve access to nature for people. In Scotland Nature Networks will address local priorities for nature, ensure connectivity and restoration across landscapes, and support urban-rural connectivity.

Through the co-design approach, the workshops will explore the possibilities that Nature Networks presents. Whatever approach is decided upon, the goal is to produce more effective area-based conservation, delivering greater improvements for nature across better-connected areas. 

To see how you can be involved in deciding what nature networks will look like in Scotland, see the Events section or contact us

Find out more:

Ecological networks (Protected Areas Review think piece)

Habitat networks

Contact mailbox:

[email protected]

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