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Natural heritage and biodiversity

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report states that “Everyone in the world depends on nature and ecosystem services to provide the conditions for a decent, healthy, and secure life.”

The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 places a duty on all public bodies, including planning authorities, to further the conservation of biodiversity in undertaking their functions.

Biodiversity in Fife

Fife is fortunate to have a wealth of fantastic habitats, from its stunning coastline of cliffs and sand dunes, to the blustery heathland of the Lomond Hills. These habitats support a huge amount of wildlife. In fact, over 10,000 different species of plants and animals have been found in the kingdom. This tapestry of habitats, and the plants and animals that they support, together make up biodiversity - the rich variety of life on earth.

Why is biodiversity important?

Biodiversity plays a vital role in our everyday life. It sustains the ecosystems that provide us with food, fuel, clean water, health and wealth. For instance:

  • The air we breathe is produced by plants
  • Insects and fungi break down dead plants to produce soil
  • Bacteria helps break down our waste
  • Biodiversity provides us with the food we eat
  • It gives us the materials we use in our everyday lives, such as textiles and timber
  • Many of the drugs we use to treat our illnesses with have their origins in biodiversity, such as the cardiac stimulant Digitoxin which comes from the common foxglove

For more information, check out our Biodiversity in Fife pages where you will also find Fife Council Biodiversity Duty Reports and information on Fife Nature Records Centre.

The Fife Forestry and Woodland Strategy 2013 contains information and maps on Fife's existing woodlands and identifies opportunities to expand woodland assets.

Fife’s Local Development Plan aims to ensure:

  • Fife's environmental assets are maintained and enhanced
  • Green networks are developed across Fife
  • Biodiversity in the wider environment is enhanced and pressure on ecosystems reduced enabling them to more easily respond to change
  • Fife's natural environment is enjoyed by residents and visitors

Planning policy safeguards Fife’s natural heritage through the protection of priority habitats, species and habitat networks of wildlife sites and corridors, watercourses, wetlands, landscape features and open space, some of which may not fall within designated sites.

Thoughtful development design can deliver high quality, successful places that protect and enhance natural heritage assets and biodiversity.  However, without care poorly sited and designed development can affect species and habitats and lead to habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation.

Development proposals must provide an assessment of the potential impact on natural heritage and biodiversity and include proposals for the enhancement of natural heritage and access assets, as detailed in Making Fife’s Places Supplementary Guidance.

Use this link to our Interactive Map to help with Site Assessments. This includes:

  • Mapping of designated natural heritage sites across Fife - shows both statutory and non-statutory designated sites
  • Mapping of integrated habitat networks across Fife - shows the five priority habitats woodland, wetland, grassland, heathland and coastal

Other useful sources of information to assist with site assessments: