Natura 2000 sites and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) represent the best of Scotland's natural heritage. These areas are 'special' either for their plants, animals or habitats, their rocks or landforms, or a combination of these. Together they form a network of the best natural features throughout Scotland and support a wider network across Great Britain and the European Union.
Over 380 Natura 2000 sites and over 1,450 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), covering more than 1,000,000 hectare of Scotland, have been designated for their national or international importance, according to their special biodiversity or geodiversity interest. In this indicator, the term habitat includes geological features. The sites extend the length and breadth of Scotland, from the moss heaths on the highest summit, Ben Nevis, through lowland species-rich grasslands and raised bogs, to the seas around Scotland, such as the marine reefs of Loch Maddy in the Western Isles.
Perhaps the biggest influence lies in the actions of the responsible bodies, land owners and users of individual sites. Many sites need specific actions to bring them into favourable condition - and some of these actions are complex to achieve. Wider developments, for example climate change, can also influence the condition of individual sites and perhaps even make them unsuitable for the original purpose of designation.
Scottish Natural Heritage has the main responsibility for delivering this National Indicator. A significant contribution will also come from Forestry Commission Scotland. These bodies set priorities and direction, and provide financial support to land owners and others to secure improvement in the condition of habitat features and for priority species. Some of this support will be delivered through Rural Development Contracts under the Scotland Rural Development Programme. The Scottish Government and other bodies with responsibilities in Scotland's marine environment also play an important role. All public bodies have a statutory duty to further biodiversity conservation as they undertake their functions and responsibilities. Co-ordinated action can also be secured locally through Local Biodiversity Action Plans.
By the end of March 2018, 79.7% of natural features were assessed as being in a favourable condition, 0.6 percentage points lower than recorded in March 2017 and 3.7 percentage points higher than recorded in 2007.
The data is available at the bottom of the page.
This evaluation is based on: any difference in the percentage within +/- 1 percentage point of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. An increase of 1 percentage point or more suggests the position is improving; whereas a decrease of 1 percentage point or more suggests the position is worsening.
For information on general methodological approach, please click here.
Scotland Performs Technical Note
Fisheries Research Services
Forestry Commission Scotland
Scottish Natural Heritage
Wealthier and Fairer