Plants and fungi and licensing

NatureScot can license certain activities that would otherwise constitute an offence against protected plant species and protected fungus species.

All wild plant species in Scotland are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).

Some more rare or vulnerable species have added protection under Schedule 8 of the Act.

Three Scottish plants are European protected species and so are protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994.

Find out more about Scotland’s protected plants and fungi.

Surveys and research

You should apply to us for a licence if your work could otherwise result in an offence in relation to protected plants and fungi.

To apply for a licence for survey, conservation, scientific, research or educational purposes, email [email protected].

You should include:

If this is your first licence application for this activity, we’ll need two references from you. Your referees should be familiar with your work in this area and able to vouch for your competence.

Social, economic and environmental purposes

We can license activities for social, economic or environmental reasons (including development) that might affect Schedule 8 plants, as long as:

  • the licensed activity will contribute to significant social, economic or environmental benefit
  • there is no satisfactory alternative
  • there is no significant threat to the conservation status of the species as a result of works

To apply for a licence for social, economic or environmental reasons, email [email protected]. You should include the same information and reference form as above.

Read the guidance on Licences for social, economic or environmental purposes

Read the guidance on Test 2 – No satisfactory alternative

If Schedule 8 plant species are likely to be present on or near to a site, we strongly recommend that a suitably experienced person conducts a survey. Where such plants are found, a species protection plan should be drawn up.

Licence changes and renewals

You should get in touch if you wish to amend a licence. But check your licence conditions first: you may be able to appoint agents and assistants without having to get them named on your licence.

Find out about adding persons to a licence.

You must also remember to contact us to renew your licence. Licences aren’t renewed automatically.

Find out more

Data Protection notice

Guidance note for field surveys and monitoring where field workers are supported by NatureScot or have licences from NatureScot

Accompanying notes for survey and monitoring licences


If you already have a licence number, include it in the subject line of your email, or have it to hand when you call.

Licensing Team

01463 725364

[email protected]

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