Biodiversity: draft planning guidance

Sets out expectations for implementing and delivering National Planning Framework (NPF) 4 policies which support the cross-cutting NPF4 outcome 'improving biodiversity'.

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Glossary of terms and definitions


Prevention of impacts occurring, having regard to predictions about potentially negative environmental effects (e.g. project decisions about site location or design).


The variability in living organisms and the ecological complexes of which they are part. This includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

Blue Infrastructure

Water environment features within the natural and built environments that provide a range of ecosystem services. Blue features include rivers, lochs, wetlands, canals, other water courses, ponds, coastal and marine areas including beaches, porous paving, sustainable urban drainage systems and raingardens.

Brownfield land

Land which has previously been developed. The term may cover vacant or derelict land, land occupied by redundant or unused buildings and developed land within the settlement boundary where further intensification of use is considered acceptable.


Communities of organisms interacting with each other and with their non-living environment: forests, wetlands, mountains, lakes, rivers, deserts and agricultural landscapes.


In order for biodiversity to be ‘enhanced’ it will need to be demonstrated that it will be in an overall better state than before intervention, and that this will be sustained in the future. Development proposals should clearly set out the type and scale of enhancement they will deliver. Specifically for local development, NatureScot’s Developing With Nature guidance provides advice on information that applicants could include within a planning application in order to provide confidence that enhancement will be achieved.


Habitat fragmentation occurs when larger areas of habitat are split into separate, smaller areas. The initiation of these smaller habitats has a direct impact on all of the species, their community structure and the overall ecosystem of those fragments.


A place or type of site where an organism or population naturally occurs.

Local Biodiversity Action Plan

A Local Biodiversity Action Plan identifies the habitats and species on which work should focus, they are one way in which the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy can be implemented at the local level. It is a comprehensive plan that identifies the local priorities for protecting and enhancing ecosystems, habitats and species in each Local Authority area. The plan enables a joined up approach across the area that all partners can work to.

Local Biodiversity Partnership

Local Biodiversity Action Plan Partnerships operate at the local authority level. They were set up in the UK following the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 in response to the UK becoming a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Most local authorities work in partnership with both national environmental agencies and local biodiversity organisations to deliver local biodiversity action plans. Either the local authority employs a dedicated biodiversity officer or, as part of other posts in the local authority, an officer supports the partnership.

Local Environmental Records Centre

Local environmental records centres are organisations which have been established, usually through a partnership of interested parties, in order to collect, collate and manage local information on the natural environment for a defined geographic area and to supply this information to local users.

Mitigating measures (Mitigation)

Measures that allow an activity with a negative impact on biodiversity, but reduce the impact on site by considering changes to the scale, design, location, process, sequencing, management and/or monitoring of the proposed activity. It requires a joint effort of planners, engineers, ecologists, other experts and often local stakeholders to arrive at the best practical environmental option.

Mitigation hierarchy

The mitigation hierarchy indicates the order in which the impacts of development should be considered and addressed. These are:

Avoid – by removing the impact at the outset

Minimise – by reducing the impact

Restore – by repairing damaged habitats

Offset – by compensating for the residual impact that remains, with preference to on-site over off-site measures

Nature-Based Solutions

Nature-based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human wellbeing and biodiversity benefits.

Nature Networks

A Nature Network is a joined-up system of places important for wild plants and animals, on land and in water. It allows plants, animals, seeds, nutrients and water to move from place to place and enables the natural world to adapt to change, providing plants and animals with places to live, feed and breed. Effectively functioning nature networks will connect existing nature rich areas through habitat corridors, habitat ‘stepping stones’, or habitat restoration areas. Scotland’s Nature Networks will enable opportunities for achieving ecological connectivity that meet local priorities for biodiversity and nature; whilst building and strengthening an evolving regional and national connectivity. Opportunities for implementation may be identified through, e.g. LDPs and/or Local Biodiversity Action Plans and/or other existing or new mechanisms such as those developed under the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Delivery Plan, to achieve connectivity within and across urban, peri-urban and rural landscapes.


The process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem towards or to good condition, as a means of conserving and/or enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem resilience; for habitat types listed in Annexes I and II (Habitats Directive), restoration means the process of assisting their recovery to the highest level of condition attainable.



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