Nature conservation

Aberdeenshire is well known for the richness of its wildlife. We need to protect and enhance our natural heritage to ensure quality of life and enjoyment for future generations. In doing this, we focus on a number of key issues:

Our work for biodiversity

Many sites, species and habitats across Aberdeenshire are protected by law. NatureScot provide details on Scotland’s protected species and protected habitats and sites.

Details of locally important species is available from North East Scotland Biodiversity Partnership and  Cairngorms National Park Authority's list of priority species.

We have a duty under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 to further the conservation of biodiversity whilst carrying out our functions. We report on biodiversity actions to meet this duty every 3 years.

We support the work of the North East Scotland Biological Records Centre (NESBReC) which is the main source of species and habitat data in the North East.

Planning guidance for developers

The protection of sites, habitats and species is an important consideration in the determination of planning applications and infrastructure projects. We have produced a number of planning guidance notes to assist developers in identifying where biodiversity may be an issue. They also detail what information and action will be required to determine an application.

Policy P1 of the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2023 and policy 3(c) of the National Planning Framework 4 require that, for all sites, measures are identified to enhance biodiversity in proportion to the opportunities available and the scale of the development.


Planning guidance for householders and small to medium sized developments

In addition to the information above view bat surveys guidance for homeowners. It includes information on what is involved when a bat survey and report is required in relation to householder planning applications.

For householders and small to medium sized developments the wildlife assessment check tool may be useful to assess what may be needed before submitting a planning application.

Important sites for nature conservation

Aberdeenshire has a number of sites that the Government has identified as being of international or national importance for nature conservation. These are statutory sites which have been selected for their ecological and geological value.

We have identified other sites as locally or regionally important for nature conservation. These include local nature conservation sites and local nature reserves.

We support the work of The Dee Catchment Partnership in the shared goal of caring for the internationally important River Dee. The River is a vital asset for Deeside and Aberdeenshire providing: water resources, countless habitats for wildlife, a stunning and varied recreational environment, and a basis for thriving tourism.

Local nature conservation sites

Local nature conservation sites represent the best local biodiversity and geodiversity sites in Aberdeenshire. They vary considerably in size from a few hectares to extensive stretches along river valleys. They include a range of habitats such as lowland raised peat bog, woodland, grassland, wetlands, coastal sand dunes and lochs.

Features of geological and geomorphological interest include exposures of various rock types, deposits such as the Buchan Gravels and glacial features. We have identified LNCS in the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2017 which also contains policies for their protection.

Local nature reserves

We have established local nature reserves to protect sites with special local natural interest, and to provide opportunities for people to learn about and enjoy nature. We designate them in consultation with NatureScot. There are currently two local nature reserves in Aberdeenshire, at Arnhall Moss, Westhill and Waters of Philorth, Fraserburgh.


Beyond sites which have statutory or local protection, it is important to protect biodiversity in the wider countryside. Even though they are not within designated sites, areas of semi-natural habitat provide an important resource for wildlife and people. These include woodlands (especially ancient and long-established ones), lowland raised bogs, sand dunes, upland heathland, lochs and grasslands. These habitats support a rich diversity of plants, birds and insects. Man-made features within the countryside, such as dry stone walls and farm ponds also provide an important resource for wildlife. 

As well as supporting wildlife, these sites also play a wider role in storing carbon, regulating water flow and providing clean drinking water.

Protected and notable species

All wildlife is important, but some species have special protection through European and UK legislation. See the NatureScot website for details of species protection. 

The Scottish Biodiversity List and the North East Scotland Biodiversity Partnership identify other nationally and locally important species (PDF 137KB). These are considered to be species which are rare or under threat at a national or local level, or for which this area is a stronghold.

When considering any proposed works or developments, we take into consideration the impact on these internationally, nationally and locally important species.

We have produced a statement on the protection and enhancement of nesting birds (PDF 140KB) and information on resolving potential health and safety issues with swallow and house martin nests (PDF 96KB)

Pollinator action plan

The Aberdeenshire Council Pollinator Action Plan 2022 to 2027 (PDF 566KB) identifies the work we will undertake to help address the significant threats facing pollinating insects.

We have also produced 5 steps people can take to protect and encourage pollinating insects (PDF 168KB) as well as an identification leaflet (PDF 368KB) for pollinating insects.