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Glasgow and Clyde Valley integrated habitat networks

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About the Glasgow and Clyde Valley area


The Glasgow and Clyde Valley (GCV) catchment contains a wide of range of diverse habitats and landscapes types. A long history of intensive land-use throughout the GCV has resulted in the loss and fragmentation of semi-natural habitats and a subsequent reduction in biodiversity. Conservation policy and practice now seek to reverse the effects of fragmentation by combining site protection and rehabilitation measures with landscape-scale approaches that improve connectivity and landscape quality.

Using an integrated habitat network modelling approach

The 2006 GCV Structure Plan promotes the vision of a Green Network that spans the eight local authority areas which constitute the GCV area. The Integrated Habitat Network (IHN) modelling approach will support this by providing a strategic framework for functioning habitat networks across the GCV focusing on three key habitat types.

The development and application IHN modelling provides a Decision Support Tool that can identify areas that are ecologically connected and can be used to target and justify planning gain and conservation effort in relation to policy drivers.


Habitat network modelling has the potential to support and guide the planning process and to target conservation effort by highlighting areas that prioritise the greatest development potential of habitat protection and enhancement. An analysis of the habitat networks was undertaken on a GCV wide basis to identify potential Priority Enhancement Areas. These are key areas for habitat restoration detailed in the GIS maps chosen on the basis that they are:

  • The largest encompassing networks
  • The greatest area of habitat within these networks, and
  • The largest number of the contained habitat networks.

The Priority Enhancement Areas include areas such as the Clyde Valley and Kilpatrick Hills woodlands, the wetlands of the Kelvin and Forth Clyde canal and the unimproved grasslands of Renfrewshire.

The identification of Priority Enhancement Areas will help target effort towards the development of networks for woodlands, wetlands, and grasslands in these areas and will also help link the GCV IHN to neighbouring habitat networks in Falkirk, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and Edinburgh and the Lothian, further highlighting the importance of ecological connectivity throughout Scotland’s Central Belt.

In addition to the GCV wide analysis the model was applied to individual sites to demonstrate how optimal solutions can be found which do not negatively affect proposed developments, but which can incorporate strategically located habitats to provide connectivity and enhance the network. This type of analysis will be extremely useful in informing master planning or the development of Community Growth Areas or Corridors.

Key findings and recommendations


  • The IHN approach could be used to help with the spatial targeting of urban planning, agri-environmental schemes and river basin management plans while also guiding actions for consolidating designated sites;
  • LBAPs, Single Outcome Agreements, and SNH Natural Futures provide appropriate scales and mechanisms for determining network priorities and for informing the regional targeting of agri-environment incentives;
  • The successful implementation of habitat networks requires the integration of local and national policy conservation priorities and planning mechanisms with network modelling and “on- the-ground” advice and execution; and
  • Engaging with local stakeholder groups is a vital part of the process of identifying and developing habitat networks.


  • IHN modelling should become an integral part of local authority decision-making process’;
  • Priority Enhancement Areas should be used to identify opportunities where effort can be undertaken to strengthen existing habitat networks;
  • The integration of activities associated with the Commonwealth Games and links with other regional habitat networks should be considered a priority;
  • The IHN process should be used to inform future reviews of the Glasgow and Clyde Valley unitary authorities:
    • Development Plans;
    • Masterplans;
    • Greenspace Strategies;
    • Biodiversity & Development Supplementary Planning Guidance.
  • The timing of reviews of other plans would enable a review of the IHN / data update to be undertaken to contribute to these reviews;
  • The model is updated annually to keep abreast of developments in landscape modelling tools, ecological understanding and land cover information.

Full report

For full details see report below:

Glasgow and Clyde Valley Integrated Habitat Networks (PDF-1697K)

Funders and partners

Glasgow & Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership

 For further information contact Darren Moseley