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  Nature Conservation and Golf Course Developments


Scottish Golf Environment Group



One of the main environmental concerns relating to the development of new golf courses and their associated facilities is that of disturbance to wildlife and damage to their habitats. Worldwide, golf courses are criticised for their destruction of woodlands, grasslands, heathland and wetlands with the negative impact this can have on an areas biological diversity. What is not so often recognised is that a carefully located, planned, designed and constructed golf course can bring with it many environmental gains.

The development of a new golf course brings with it threats and opportunities for the environment. In relation to nature conservation, golf course architects can contribute greatly to the overall impact of the project by looking closely at the existing provision of habitats on the site. They should also assess how important those habitats are. What species are present and how important are they? They can avoid the most sensitive areas, and design the course to fit in with existing vegetation patterns and topography.

Clearly every site is unique and brings with it its own constraints and opportunities. However, one thing that is common to all development is the process.

Nature Conservation should be a key aim of any new development. The needs of local species and habitats should be considered from the outset. Ecologists should be advising the golf course architect from the start. Architects should then be integrating this information and advice into their designs. In this way projects will contribute more to the local environment than they take away.

All too often developers and architects view interesting habitats and vegetation as a threat to the project, which may bring too many constraints on design and layout. This need not be the case. Existing habitats should be embraced as characteristics which will strengthen the structure and texture of the course. Golf courses which take heed of local vegetation and features such as woodlands, wetlands and grasslands will sit in greater harmony with the local landscape, and as a result have a more mature feel and sense of place.

We would recommend that our guidance is utilised by all those involved in the planning, design and construction of golf courses, both from the developmental side and that of planning control.

Download a free copy of our guidance; Nature Conservation and Golf Course Development; Best Practice Advice.

Due to the size of this document it has been split into sections for easier downloading.






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