Over 1,400 of Scotland’s precious natural treasures are in a poor condition, according to the latest official assessments released by the government’s wildlife agency, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
Some of the country’s best-know mountains, lochs, woodlands and bogs, along with birds, beetles, plants and other wildlife are suffering from farming, forestry, sporting estates, pollution, invasive species and many other threats.
Among the numerous natural features categorised by SNH as being in “unfavourable condition” are alpine and other plants on Ben Lomond, Ben Lawers, Ben Nevis, Glen Coe and the Cairngorms. They are being eaten by excessive numbers of deer, burnt by landowners and damaged by walkers.
An oak woodland at Loch Lomond, an ash woodland at Aberfeldy and a native pine forest in Glen Affric have been damaged by forestry operations, invasive species and over-grazing deer. Pollution is harming river lampreys in the River Tweed, great crested newts and beetles in Dumfries and Galloway and arctic charr in an Ayrshire loch.
Many bird populations are also rated to be in poor condition, including puffins and kittiwakes in the Firth of Forth, capercaillie at Glen Tanar in Aberdeenshire and arctic terns at Mousa in Shetland. Fisheries managers, foresters, farmers and invasive species are blamed (see table below).