What is it?

Scotland has a rich and important diversity of biological and geological natural features. Many of these species populations, habitats and earth science features are nationally and/or internationally important.

There is a series of nature conservation designations:

These designations seek to protect the best examples of these features. There are 1,866 protected sites in Scotland, (although some of their boundaries overlap,) which host a total of 5,355 designated natural features, as of 31st March 2017. Marine features are reported separately.

The condition of features on designated sites in Scotland is assessed by Scottish Natural Heritage’s Site Condition Monitoring (SCM) programme. Site Condition Monitoring is a six-year rolling programme of monitoring which aims to assess the condition of a sample of designated natural features each year, and acts as a trigger mechanism for follow-up work when an unfavourable assessment is concluded.

Where unfavourable condition is found from a Site Condition Monitoring assessment, remedial action is taken to address the underlying causes (or pressures) on the natural feature to promote full recovery. For example, the discovery of invasive New Zealand pygmy weed during an Site Condition Monitoring survey led to a project to control it which resulted in a reduction of over 90%.

The indicator, which is reported annually as an official statistic, represents the proportion of natural features which are either in favourable, or unfavourable recovering condition (from Site Condition Monitoring assessment or where remedial action has been taken to promote recovery to favourable).

Explore the data

View the Protected Nature Sites Indicators data analysis application

How do I interpret the data?

The baseline against which progress with this indicator is established comes from the proportion of natural features in favourable/recovering condition in 2005.

Since then, a snapshot of the data contained on the Site Condition Monitoring database is taken on 31st March for the year to be reported and published. Its status as an official statistic ensures that the indicator is compiled in a consistent manner and reported without external influence or bias. The indicator reported here is updated on a nearly live basis, so it will differ slightly from the annual figure as new results come in.

The baseline for the proportion of natural features in favourable/recovering condition was established at 71.4% in 2005. Since 2016 more than 80% of natural features are in favourable/recovering condition.

Who is responsible for this indicator?

Scottish Natural Heritage

This indicator is prepared by Scottish Natural Heritage


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