Scotland’s natural features improved

SNH recently released a report looking at the condition of Scotland’s natural features. SNH’s Site Condition Monitoring Data Manager Brian Dickson explains some of the findings and shares a few examples of the work we’ve done with partners.

Calgary Dunes ©Jan Dunlop

Calgary Dunes ©Jan Dunlop

Scotland’s protected nature – including wildlife and local beauty spots that boost local and national economies – are continuing to improve, and encouraging more people to connect with Scotland’s natural heritage.

Despite a small drop of less than 1% in the last year, a new Site Condition Monitoring (SCM) report by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) shows nearly 8 in 10 of Scotland’s natural features are ‘either in or recovering towards a favourable condition’ – a  4.3 per cent increase since targets were established in 2007.

Much recent improvement has come through SNH, its partners, and private landowners tackling invasive non-native species; and over-grazing on protected areas. In Argyll and Bute, SNH worked with Mull and Iona Community Trust to help manage grazing levels on species-rich machair grasslands at Calgary Dunes SSSI. After years of overgrazing degraded the health of grasslands, improved management helped local flowers, herbs, and grasses to recover, and host a thriving population of insects and bumblebees. Today the result is flourishing greenspace, run by local people.

Jan Dunlop, Mull and Iona Community Trust Ranger, said: “Before work began, visitors to the grasslands were viewing seemingly barren fields. Our 2017 plant survey shows there are now many more flowering plants, and we hope to build on this with even more diversity this year.”

SNH is also working with volunteers so more people can access Scotland’s natural features. At Lynn Spout SSSI, an overhanging tree was proving a risk to the future stability of the local trail, until SNH funded and helped with its removal. Volunteers removed vegetation obscuring the gorge, and the local community and friends group is improving the path network, for more people to enjoy.

Alastair Adamson, Sub-Committee Chairman for Dalry Community Development Hub, said: “Dalry Community Development Hub is very appreciative of the support and assistance provided by SNH during the restoration of the Lynn Glen Trail. The clearance of the SSSI geological exposure by the enthusiastic TCV volunteers, and the removal of a tree that would have ended up damaging it, has created an interesting focal point on the trail which again can be enjoyed and well used by the local community.”

A rare plant risking extinction was revitalised following a project partnership by SNH and Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. Whorled Solomon’s seal is found only at steep sided wooded gorges in Perthshire, and was greatly threatened by erosion and landslips. RBGE grew plant stock, transplanting it to locations in Perthshire identified by SNH as having at-risk populations including the Den of Riechip Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Den of Airlie SSSI, helping to bring this beautiful plant, with its white bell-shaped flowers and elegant, long leaves back to the wild.

Whorled Solomons Seal (c)Lorne Gill/SNH

Whorled Solomons Seal (c)Lorne Gill/SNH

These are only a few examples of the work SNH is doing to help improve Scotland’s nature. Connecting people with nature is our key priority, and we know our partners feel the same. But there is more to be done. We are committed to working with our partners and private landowners to manage and improve protected areas, so they can be enjoyed now, and for generations to come.

If you’d like to read more, the full statistical publication is available on our website.

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