New approaches for NatureScot to improve designated sites - NatureScot

Pine marten (Martes martes). ©Lorne Gill NatureScot
Pine marten (Martes martes). ©Lorne Gill NatureScot

NatureScot will be developing new approaches to ensure that protected areas help nature thrive across Scotland.

Official statistics published today by NatureScot show that more than three quarters (77.9%) of Scotland’s natural features on protected nature sites are either in or recovering towards a favourable condition. Natural features include habitats, species as well as geological features such as fossil beds and caves. Cooperative work with landowners on protected areas has been key to improving the condition of sites.

However, there has been a slow decline in the number of features in favourable condition over recent years. This analysis, and NatureScot’s Protected Area Review, highlight that in many cases it’s necessary to look beyond the boundaries of individual sites to understand changes and, where possible, develop solutions.

In many cases, unfavourable condition is the result of factors external to an individual site that cannot be influenced, such as geographical shifts in the areas which some species breed or spend the winter. However, other declines are due to issues that can be improved, but operate at larger geographical scales and therefore require new approaches.

For example, two of the biggest causes of unfavourable condition are overgrazing, and invasive, non-native species. Controlling invasive species, such as rhododendron or Japanese knotweed, requires collaboration between neighbouring owners to be effective as leaving even a small patch of an invasive plant allows rapid recolonization of cleared areas. Similarly, reducing grazing pressures by deer or other species requires collaboration and partnership from neighbours. These approaches can help not only nature within protected areas but also outside it.

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Posted On: 22/06/2022

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