Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Moray Firth. ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

Key principles: Developing a biodiversity project

Discover the key principles to consider when developing a biodiversity project.


Scotland’s diverse landscape supports thousands of visiting and resident species. Together they fill Scotland with colour, movement and sound and many also have an important role in keeping a clean and productive environment.

With species being such an integral component of our habitats and ecosystems, it is important that public bodies protect and enhance them.

Key species groups in Scotland

Your responsibilities

When dealing with protected species, you must ensure that your actions are responsible and within the law.

Find out what your responsibilities are and read our advice for planners and developers on protected animals and on protected birds.

You must also check whether you need a licence for any disturbance that you can’t avoid. Find out more about licensing

For more information and useful resources, see the Biodiversity Planning Toolkit, the CIRIA website and our biodiversity data and information page.

Habitats and habitat networks

Scotland is home to a great diversity of habitats. Our landscapes and habitats give us the rich and varied patterns that make our country so enticing.

Habitat networks

A habitat network is a set of separate areas of habitat that are sufficiently connected to allow species to move easily between them. In this way, habitat networks enhance biodiversity.

However, often as a result of development, habitat networks can become fragmented. When this occurs, we have to consider recreating or reconnecting these networks.

Green networks

Green networks are connected areas of green space and habitats (such as parks, paths and woodlands) within urban areas that provide social and economic benefits. They therefore differ from habitat networks in their purpose.

Your responsibilities

Learn more about the policy and legislation in place regarding habitat networks.

Find out how, when developing your own biodiversity project, you should be considering habitat networks with this guidance on dealing with habitat networks

And, for further information, visit the grounds maintenance and management page.

Large Development Sites

Various pieces of legislation and planning conditions exist to protect environmental features on larger development sites.

Increasingly, local planning authorities are requiring an independent Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) to ensure compliance with such legislation and conditions.

An ECoW is responsible for ensuring that site contractors and management have the correct knowledge to protect environmental features on site. The ECoW therefore often needs to make decisions quickly, sometimes in highly pressured circumstances.

Find out more this role and the tasks undertaken on the following websites: