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
- Important sites for nature conservation
- Protected and notable species
British and European law protect some sites, species and habitats. At a national or local level we identify others as priorities for action. Details of priority species are available from North East LBAP and Cairngorms Nature.
We have a duty under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 to further the conservation of biodiversity whilst carrying out our functions.
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.
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 guidance notes to assist developers in identifying where biodiversity may be an issue. They also detail what information will be required in order to determine an application.
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.
Local Nature Conservation Sites
Local Nature Conservation Sites (LNCS) 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 (LNR) 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 Scottish Natural Heritage. 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.
All wildlife is important but some species have special protection through European and UK legislation. See the Scottish Natural Heritage website for details of species protection.
The Scottish Biodiversity List and the North East Local Biodiversity Action Plan identify other locally important species (pdf 218KB). These are considered to be rare or under threat at a 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.