Management of European sites

NatureScot works with owners and occupiers of European sites to ensure that natural heritage interests are managed appropriately.

EU Exit does not alter the standard of protection for these sites.

The term ‘European site’ is being used to refer to what were previously known as ‘Natura’ sites.  This recognises that Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) protect species and habitats shared across Europe and were originally designated under European legislation.

The habitats and species found on our Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) often reflect the influence of people’s past and present activities in an area.

Designation as a European site won’t automatically make a difference to how a site is managed though changes may be needed to protect its interests. More information can be found for each SAC and marine SPA in the ‘About conservation advice documents for European sites in Scotland’ document.

We work with European site owners and occupiers to ensure the protected interests are managed appropriately. Sources of funding to help with this process include:

Many European sites are also designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). Find out about protection and management of SSSIs.

Terrestrial and marine SACs are protected in the same way. Read about the protection of European sites. Some additional management arrangements apply to marine SACs and SPAs, however. Find out more about marine European sites.

Our Site Condition Monitoring programme informs the ongoing management of European sites, and helps to ensure that habitats and species of interest are properly maintained over the long term. It has also contributed to regular reporting on the UK’s progress in implementing the European Habitats Directive and Birds Directive, and will contribute to future reports that the Scottish Ministers are obliged to publish. 

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