Scotland's Biodiversity: It's in Your Hands - A strategy for the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Scotland

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Scotland's Biodiversity: It's in Your Hands
A strategy for the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Scotland

Header Photo Courtesy of RSPB

It's 2030: Scotland is recognised as a world leader in biodiversity conservation. Everyone is involved; everyone benefits. The nation is enriched.

View south across Loch Insh.Courtesy of RSPB

View south across Loch Insh.
Courtesy of RSPB

Let's start in your garden

"The garden is a miracle. Every year I let a bit go wild just for the pleasure of seeing the nature struggling away to get itself sorted. The roses look bonny, but it's the thistles that bring the goldfinches."

Davy Macdonald, retired postman, Kiltarlity

Gardens are a haven for wildlife, and their importance has increased as wildlife in the wider countryside has declined. Most gardens can be improved to support greater biodiversity through small changes in design, planting and management, for example by planting a native tree, creating a nectar rich border, a garden pond, or a meadow.

One garden may seem trivial, and it may be if seen in isolation, but if many people do the same, and if public spaces are better managed for biodiversity, then networks will spring up, our actions will reinforce each other, and biodiversity will flourish.

Hover-fly nectaringCourtesy of SNH

Hover-fly nectaring
Courtesy of SNH

The future in fragments

Butterflies have a story to tell us about fragmented habitats. Some butterflies species are increasing in numbers, but these are mainly the 'generalists', such as the large skipper which can survive in a range of different habitats. Many of our rarer species, like the marsh and pearl bordered fritillaries are in decline, and these are typically the 'specialists' which are highly dependent on particular plants or habitats. And it is because these habitats are now so fragmented that the specialists - and a host of other organisms - find it increasingly difficult to reproduce and survive. We need to expand and link up these critical habitats or we risk losing much precious biodiversity.

Our impact can be positive

In the Western Isles, a form of sandy grassland known as 'the machair' provides a world class habitat that is renowned for its swathes of summer flowers and breeding birds such as redshank, corn bunting, dunlin and corncrake.

What's really surprising though is that the machair is, in part, created by human activity. While the richness and diversity is the product of natural gradients of salinity, acidity and water level, it is the crofting pattern of land use - cattle and sheep grazing, small scale cultivation and land use rotation - that ensures the machair does not revert to a simpler and much less rich habitat.

Hover-fly nectaringCourtesy of SNH

Red Clover carpeted Machair, Isle of Lewis
Courtesy ofLorne Gill/SNH