Scottish Natural Heritage
Scottish Natural Heritage is a Scottish public body responsible for Scotland's natural heritage, especially its natural, genetic and scenic diversity.
It advises the Scottish Government and acts as a government agent in the delivery of conservation designations, i.e. National Nature Reserves, Local Nature Reserves, Long Distance Routes, National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and the National Scenic Area.
SNH has around 800 staff with offices in most parts of Scotland including the main islands.
Promote care for and improvement of the natural heritage
Help people enjoy it responsibly
Enable greater understanding and awareness of it
Promote its sustainable use, now and for future generations.
For the natural heritage to be used and managed sustainably.
What It Does
Care for Nature:
Help enhance Scotland's natural diversity and help the people of Scotland engage with our nature and landscapes.
This means maintaining rich and diverse wildlife and habitats on land and at sea and stopping the loss of biodiversity. It means establishing and overseeing the effective management of protected areas (such as our National Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest or Natura 2000 sites).
It also means helping the people of Scotland achieve a greater understanding and appreciation of our nature through promotional campaigns, knowledge sharing and education.
Respond to Climate Change:
Climate change is the supposedly the most serious threat over coming decades to Scotland's natural heritage. Scotland fears that, by the 2080s, Scotland will be warmer, especially in summer, with snowless winters in some parts; winters may become wetter and summers drier. Species and habitats may shift northwards or up hillsides, but many may be unable to keep pace with the rates of climatic change and some species may become extinct.
The natural heritage can help both to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and help society to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
Land management can increase the carbon stored in soils and vegetation, and reduce carbon inputs and losses. Carbon stored in peatlands is equivalent to at least 180 years of greenhouse gas emissions from Scotland at current rates. Appropriate new woodlands in suitable locations can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Maintaining the resilience of ecosystems will enable them to provide the services that support human life as well as biodiversity. Restoring natural processes in freshwater systems can reduce flood risk, and natural habitats can provide protection against sea-level rise. Reducing other pressures on ecosystems, e.g. from pollution and habitat loss, will help nature to be more resilient to climate change.
Protected sites will remain important for conservation because low nutrient levels, greater habitat diversity and natural processes will continue to favour high biodiversity.
Deliver Health and Well-being:
SNH's countryside and green spaces make an enormous contribution to quality of life in Scotland, and have an important role in improving public health and well-being. SNH wants to raise awareness and understanding of this contribution, and to increase it so that everyone in Scotland can benefit from it.
It does this through promoting outdoor recreation and access, the planning and management of green space and landscapes, and involving more people and communities in place-making.
Support the Scottish Economy:
The natural heritage is vital to many sectors of Scotland's economy. It helps people understand how the natural environment currently supports our economic well-being, and work with others to develop sustainable ways of using it in the future.
Such future use depends on looking after our natural heritage now, so we make an input to Strategic Environmental Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment and other aspects of the planning system to help ensure a balanced approach to development. It aims to help create a high quality environment which will attract and retains a skilled workforce.
The natural heritage is particularly vital to our tourism industry. It provides places for visitors to enjoy nature, and we help tourism businesses that are closely linked to the natural heritage.
Deliver a High Quality Public Service:
SNH is committed to delivering a high-quality public service. This means making an effective contribution to a wide range of public goals, working with our customers in a constructive, responsive and positive way, and being informed by the best available science. It also means ensuring people know what it does and why it does it.
Public organisations have changed markedly over recent decades, in part due to technological changes, in part due to cultural changes in the way public business is handled, and in part due to the continued need for greater efficiency. The aim is to help lead the way in being a 21st century organisation.
Manage Scotland's Deer:
SNH now has the role of promoting conservation and sustainable management of deer in Scotland.