Aberdeenshire Council has a duty under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 to further the conservation of biodiversity whilst carrying out its functions.

Aberdeenshire is well known for the richness of its wildlife. This resource needs to be protected and enhanced in its own right and to ensure quality of life and enjoyment for future generations.

Some sites, species and habitats are protected by British and European law whilst others are identified as priorities for action within National and Local Biodiversity action Plans (LBAPs). Details of priority species are available from North East LBAP and Cairngorms Nature.

Aberdeenshire Council supports 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. Aberdeenshire Council - Planning

Aberdeenshire Council has produced a number of leaflets and guidance documents to assist developers in identifying where biodiversity may be an issue and what information will be required in order to determine an application.

Important Sites for Nature Conservation

Some areas have been identified as being of international, national or local importance for nature conservation. These include statutory and non-statutory sites which have been identified for their ecological and geological value.

top of pageInternational Designations

Natura 2000 is the title for a network of areas designed to conserve natural habitats of species of plants and animals which are rare, endangered or vulnerable in the European Community. The Natura 2000 network includes Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPA).

Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) are areas designated under the EU Habitats Directive and are selected for a number of terrestrial and marine habitats and species listed in the Directive.

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are areas designated under the EU Birds Directive and are selected for a number of rare, threatened or vulnerable bird species, listed in the Directive and also for regularly occurring migratory species.

Ramsar Sites are wetlands of international importance. They include marshes, fens, peatlands, estuaries, open water and offshore marine areas, and in particular, those supporting large numbers of waterfowl.

top of pageNational Designations

National Nature Reserves (NNRs) are areas of national or international importance for nature conservation and include some of the most important natural and semi-natural habitats in Great Britain. The main purpose of the management of these areas is the conservation of habitats and species. These sites are designated by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are areas of land or water which are of special interest by reason of their plants, animals, habitats, rock or landforms or a combination of such features. In Scotland they are designated by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Information on the location, extent and interest of all international and nationally important sites is available from SNH Sitelink.

top of pageLocal Designations

Local Nature Conservation Sites (LNCS)

These are areas identified by Aberdeenshire Council as being of regional or local importance for a particular biological or geological interest. These sites replace Sites of Interest to Natural Science (SINS). LNCS have beenidentified based on an agreed set of criteria that is consistent across Scotland. These include habitat and species rarity, important populations of a particular species, and the presence of rock outcrops or geomorphological features. These sites will be identified in the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2016, which will also contain policies for their protection.

Sites of Interest to Natural Science (SINS)

An area identified by Aberdeenshire Council as being of local importance and representative of a particular type of biological or geological interest.

Local Nature Reserves (LNRs )

These have been established to protect sites with special local natural interest, and to provide opportunities for people to learn about and enjoy nature. They are designated by Aberdeenshire Council in consultation with Scottish Natural Heritage. There are currently two Local Nature Reserves in Aberdeenshire, at Arnhall Moss, Westhill and Waters of Philorth, Fraserburgh.

Other sites which are protected by Local Plan policies are those which support ancient and long-established woodland and raised bogs.

Ancient woodlands are important as they include remnants of Scotland's original woodland and are often richer in wildlife and soil biodiversity. Once destroyed these woodlands cannot be re-created. Long-established woodlands of plantation origin (LEPO) are those areas that historical maps indicate have been continuously wooded since 1750 or 1860. Many of these sites have developed semi-natural characteristics or retain an element of the original woodland ground flora and soil characteristics.

Aberdeenshire is an important area for lowland raised bogs which are amongst the most threatened and uncommon habitats in Great Britain. Growth of Sphagnum moss creates a dome shape and they are fed exclusively from rainwater and are therefore very acid and nutrient poor. These habitats support a characteristic range of plants and animals.

Further information on the location of locally important sites covered by the above designations can be obtained from NESBReC.


Various habitats such as riparian woodland, coastal sand dunes, estuaries and birch woodland have been identified as Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitats. Details of priority habitats in Aberdeenshire are available from North East LBAP and Cairngorms Nature.

Protected or notable species

Some species are protected by European and UK legislation while others have been considered to be in need of conservation action. Impact on these species will be taken in to consideration by Aberdeenshire Council when considering any proposed works or developments.

All species of bat together with otter, wildcat and all cetaceans are European protected species (Eps) and are given a high level of protection through European and UK law. European protected species - Scottish Natural Heritage

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Scottish Natural Heritage - Home) updated by the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004. protects all species of birds during the breeding season with some rare species (Schedule 1 species) being afforded special protection. Other animals and plants protected under this legislation include lizard, pine marten, water vole, red squirrel and the native bluebell.

Badgers and their setts are protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

Other notable species are identified in the Scottish Biodiversity List or as North East Local Biodiversity Action Plan Locally Important Species. The latter include species that are considered to be rare or under threat at a local level, or for which this area is a stronghold.

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