Biodiversity Technical Note for Planners and Developers
Our Biodiversity Technical Note is aimed at planners, developers and householders thinking about new-builds, renovations or extensions, to help them protect, enhance conserve and restore our biodiversity during the planning and development process. It also provides essential information on what habitats and species require survey work. Key elements of the new document are a Biodiversity Checklist and a checklist for Invasive Non-Native species - which will help in the basic assessment of any proposed site.
Phase 1 Habitat Surveys for Community Groups
Phase 1 Habitat Surveys are environmental audits that categorise the different habitat types and features within a survey area, before development or building work is done, to let you know of any potential ecological issues
Why is Biodiversity important in Argyll and Bute?
According to experts, Argyll and Bute is considered to be a biodiversity hot spot with some of the best examples of a range of Land, Freshwater and Marine and Coastal Habitats and Species in the UK.
The many natural influences which have shaped our landscape as well as the myriad of man's activities, make Argyll and Bute unique.
The terrestrial environment in Argyll is made up of a complex mosaic of forestry, hills and moorland, farmland and peatlands patterned by lochs and rivers. Argyll has a diversity of agricultural interests in the form of crofting, farming and estate. Our woodlands and forests cover 30% of Argyll and Bute, totalling 2000 square kilometres representing 15% of Scotland’s total forest resource. Around 85% is comprised of productive coniferous forests; with the remainder comprising of semi-natural and native woodland made up of birch and Atlantic oak-woods. We have 37,500ha of ancient woodland of which 27,000ha is semi-natural in origin.
Over 50% of the rest of Argyll and Bute is a mosaic of heather moor/peatland, rough grassland and bracken scrub. A number of species associated with these habitats are the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), and Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix), Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia), and mammals such as the Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and Pine Martin (Martes martes).
The freshwater environment in Argyll is varied, ranging from large lochs and rivers with medium water chemistries to tiny nutrient-poor, peat-stained lochans. Argyll contains the longest freshwater loch in Scotland (Loch Awe - 41kms) and the loch with the greatest surface area (Loch Lomond - 71kms²). The Freshwater Pearl Mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) an internationally important species, the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and the Powan (Coregonus lavaret) are three such species associated with some of our river and loch systems. These freshwater inhabitants are good examples of why Argyll is important for biodiversity, but also why action is required to protect these resources.
Marine and Coastal Ecosystems
The coastline of Argyll and Bute is one of its most outstanding scenic assets, attracting thousands of visitors annually from all over the world. The coastline contains many habitats and species, some vitally important and rare marine and coastal habitats which include the strange and unique Serpulid reef in Loch Creran.
From a marine activities perspective, this area of the west coast of Scotland is very important for its wide range of marine life which supports a number of diverse interests including fishing, diving, whale and dolphin watching and research. Apart from the ever increasing numbers of seals, twenty three species of whales, basking shark and dolphins have been identified in British coastal waters, and all have been seen off Argyll. Some of the best areas to spot these animals on a regular basis are just off the islands of Coll and Tiree for Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus), Killer Whale (Orcinus orca), the Common Dolphin (Delphinus dephis) and the Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). Although these animals do not spend all year in Argyll and Bute waters, they are very important icons for Biodiversity and an increasing whale, dolphin and shark- watching tourist market is growing in the area.
On shore, the habitats of the coastal region support many important animal and plant communities. The world famous machair habitat is well represented in Argyll with 14% of the Scottish total, and equivalent to 10% of the world resource. This habitat is extremely important for a number of plants and animals, not least the Corncrake (Crex crex) and Great Yellow Bumblebee (Bombus distinguendus). The machair of CoIl and Tiree is amongst the most important remaining strongholds for these globally-threatened species. Other Argyll islands and parts of the mainland are also crucial in securing the recovery of Corncrake.
Ecosystems- What are they?
An ecosystem is a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment, all interacting as a functional unit. This approach recognises that habitats and species cannot be considered in isolation but are dependent on maintaining healthy ecosystems, and that the threats and pressures upon these parts of ecosystems need to be addressed in a coordinated way and at appropriate levels.
Current Action for Biodiversity
The Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan was first published in 2001 following the guidance set out by the government to focus on action plans under the headings of Land, Freshwater, and Marine and Coastal. It was refreshed under the Ecosystem approach in 2010 and is currently being re-drafted as an interim refresh to align it with the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy 2020.
The biodiversity process in Argyll and Bute seeks to maintain and enhance our extensive variety of habitats and species. It involves many government, non-government agencies, community groups and individuals.
In Argyll and Bute there are many examples of good practice in the management of our habitats and species. A number of schemes provide financial support for the crofting and farming communities to contribute to the conservation, restoration and enhancement of many habitats and species.
In terms of biodiversity application, we input into the Development and Implementation of the Local Development Plan along with the promotion of the Biodiversity Technical Note for Planners and Developers
For further information on biodiversity in Argyll and Bute, please contact our Local Biodiversity Officer.
Biodiversity Duty Reporting
This Report presents the Argyll and Bute Council Biodiversity Duty Compliance Report 2011-2014 which forms part of the National reporting and auditing of the Biodiversity Duty by public bodies and is now required by the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (2011) Scotland.
It reflects agreed activities as set out in the Argyll and Bute Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2009-2014 under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 which places a duty on all public bodies to further the conservation of biodiversity