Important Locations for Biodiversity

Statutory and non-statutory sites in North East Scotland

Scotland has statutory designated sites of international, national and local importance for nature conservation, and most are represented in North East Scotland.  They are protected because they are particularly important places for the protection and enhancement of biodiversity and are valued by society.

There are also non-statutory sites (not designated through policy or legislation), which contribute to nature conservation. These include RSPB and Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserves, and there are several within the NESBiP area.

Unprotected areas may also be important for other reasons. Refer to information on protected species, as these often occur outside of protected sites.  Unprotected areas are also likely to be part of habitat networks.

More about designated sites within the NESBiP area:

International Designations

Natura Sites

Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and candidate SAC (cSAC)
Special Protection Area (SPA) and proposed SPA (pSPA)

Any plan or project with the potential to impact a Natura site (including cSAcs and pSPAs) will require a Habitats Regulations Appraisal screening and may require an Appropriate Assessment.



National Designations

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
National Nature Reserves (NNRs)
Other Designations including Forestry Designations and Seal Conservation Areas

Local Designations

Details of all local designations can be found through the Council websites listed below in more information.

Local Nature Reserves (LNRs)

Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are areas of natural heritage that are (at least) locally important. There are 75 LNRs in Scotland. The local authority can designate a Local Nature Reserve as a protected area of land because of its special natural interest and/ or educational value. They are sometimes linked to SSSIs and/or a Natura site. The local authority is responsible for managing LNRs in its area and will usually do so through its countryside ranger service.

Local Nature Conservation Sites (LNCSs)

Local Nature Conservation Sites (LNCSs) identify locally important natural heritage. These areas could be affected by development.

This network of sites represents the best of local biodiversity across the area.   As well as biodiversity, LNCS may also be designated for their importance for geodiversity (rocks, fossils and all the earth materials that are important to us, such as soil). The LNCS network complements and supports International and Nationally important sites like Special Protection Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

LNCS vary considerably in size from a bog or old quarry of a few hectares to extensive stretches along river valleys. They include a range of habitats such as lowland raised peat bog, woodland, grassland, wetlands, but many are coastal sites which cover sand dunes, estuaries and coastal cliffs.

North East Scotland Biological Records Centre (NESBReC)  also hold detailed data, including species records, for each of the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire LNCS sites. This can be accessed on request.

More information

Local authority maps and information
Local Development Plans and supporting guidance should be consulted for information about the location of protected sites and relevant planning policies:

Aberdeen City Council Natural Heritage interactive mapping tool
Individual Aberdeen City Council LNCS site maps
Aberdeenshire Council
Moray Council

Find a designated site
Search for all international and national designations on Scotland’s Environment Web.

Search for local designations (Local Nature Conservation Sites and Local Nature Reserves) on Scotland’s Local Government Spatial Hub.

Read more about designated sites
You can read about Scotland’s designated sites on NatureScot’s website.

More information on non-statutory designated sites
You can find more information on this on NatureScot’s website.

More advice for developers
NatureScot have produced specific advice about what is expected of developers proposing or undertaking work in or close to a designated site.

Picture of the sand dunes at Forvie NNR at sunset.

Forvie NNR © Lorne Gill / NatureScot

Statutory designated sites of importance are particularly important places for the protection and enhancement of biodiversity, and are valued by society

Lina-Elvira Back

Environmental Planner at Aberdeen City Council

Further Information

Information on our habitats

Statements to guide you on our key habitats

Information on our species

How to safeguard our local wildlife

Your Biodiversity, Your Wellbeing

Find out why biodiversity is important to you

Tools & Resources

A summary of the help available online for developers of all sizes