G: Use of Native Woodland Survey of Scotland data in development planning

Native and ancient woods are recognised in Scottish Planning Policy for their importance for our natural and cultural heritage.

Planning authorities are public bodies who are subject to the biodiversity duty in the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, which requires all public bodies to further biodiversity where it is relevant to their functions. Development planning and management take account of native woodlands as priority habitats under the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy.

Data from the Native Woodland Survey of Scotland can help planning authorities to prepare development plans that are based on a sound and consistent basis of knowledge of native woods.

Unsuitable forms of development can then be directed away from native woods. Planners will often want to understand the relative value of native woods for biodiversity and other benefits in order to guide planning decisions. NWSS data can help planners with this, and the guidance in sections A to C should help.

NWSS can also help inform habitat network and green network plans which may form part of a local Development Plan, so that areas that are priorities for desired network expansion can be protected from unsuitable development as well as important existing native woods.

Where local authorities prepare Indicative Forestry Strategies (IFS) to set out their spatial vision for woodlands, these should link to development plans and network plans. NWSS data should be highly valuable for those preparing IFS.

NWSS data may also be useful evidence to feed into Strategic Environmental Assessments (not confined to development planning but also including other regional or national scale plans) and regional strategic planning such as National Park Plans. NWSS also can provide contextual information about individual sites that may be subject to Environmental Impact Assessments.

Local authorities play a leading role in preparing and implementing Local Biodiversity Action Plans (LBAPs), which include targets for native woods and/or individual priority woodland types as well as selected priority species. NWSS data can help LBAP partnerships to develop plans and target effort.