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03 December, 2019

Report finds SNH nature reserves generate £28m in benefits

Report finds SNH nature reserves generate £28m in benefits: Beinn Eighe NNR - credit SNH-Lorne Gill

Nature reserves owned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) generate £28m worth of climate, tourism, recreation, and health benefits a year, research published today reveals.

The report – the first of its kind produced by a public body in Scotland – measures the value of the natural capital of the 56,000ha of land owned and managed by SNH, which is mainly comprised of National Nature Reserves (NNRs).

Natural capital is the stock of Scotland’s plants, wildlife, air, water, and land providing benefits to the people and businesses across the country. Assessing the monetary value of natural capital is one way to show how nature provides many benefits to everyone in their everyday lives. Using the natural capital approach to understand nature’s wider benefits can in turn help businesses and other organisations make more informed decisions based on a broader picture which includes the environment.

The report’s calculations include volunteers contributing 4,659 days of work (£421k); SNH land sequestering carbon, mainly through its woodland and saltmarsh habitats (£2m) and air quality filtration benefits (£73k). Other benefits valued in the report include food, education, renewable energy production, and health and well-being.

Annual management costs were estimated at £3.5million, which means we estimate the benefits of SNH land outweigh the costs by eight to one. The true capital benefits may be much higher, however, as it isn’t currently possible to measure other advantages, such as water quality, mental health benefits and flood risk mitigation.

SNH Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said:

“This innovative report vividly illustrates that our nature reserves are providing an outstanding return on investment of time, money and resources.

“Nature is an asset, but one we need to protect and invest in. Key to this is tackling climate change impacts – and nature is a solution. We need a rich variety of life to be able to sustain food supplies, water and the air we breathe. But it’s not just about conservation - enhancing our nature is also part of the solution to the climate emergency. Our nature reserves are critical to our work of ensuring a nature-rich future for Scotland.”

SNH is the first public body to publish natural capital accounts for their land in Scotland, and could provide a template for other public bodies to consider this approach. Read the full report at To find out more about Scotland’s NNRs, see


Contact information

SNH Media

Notes to editors

The report, Testing a Natural Capital Approach on SNH land, will help inform SNH’s future decisions about its land to secure greater benefits for people and nature. Having good information on the state of natural assets and their benefits will help land owners and managers consider how best to use their land to benefit society. 

Scottish Natural Heritage is Scotland's nature agency. We work to improve our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. We work to ensure that all nature in Scotland - our key habitats and landscapes, all our green space and our native species - is maintained, enhanced and brings us benefits. It is the job of all of us to achieve a balance in the sensitive management of our natural world in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

'S e Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Tha sinn ag obair airson ar n-àrainneachd nàdarra ann an Alba a thoirt am feabhas agus a h-uile duine a bhrosnachadh gus barrachd cùraim a ghabhail dhi. Gus am bi an nàdar air fad ann an Alba – ar prìomh àrainnean is chruthan-tìre, ar n-àiteachan uaine gu lèir is ar gnèithean dùthchasach - air an gleidheadh, air an leasachadh 's a' toirt bhuannachdan dhuinn. 'S e an dleastanas a th' oirnn uile co-chothrom ann an stiùireadh faiceallach ar saoghail nàdarra a ruighinn airson bith-iomadachd a ghleidheadh 's a leasachadh. Airson an tuilleadh fios, tadhail air an làraich-lìn againn aig no lean air Twitter sinn aig


Beinn Eighe NNR - credit SNH-Lorne Gill

Beinn Eighe NNR - credit SNH-Lorne Gill

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Flanders Moss NNR - credit SNH-Lorne Gill

Flanders Moss NNR - credit SNH-Lorne Gill

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Volunteers and reserve officer Jeremy Squire removing himalayan balsam from the shores of Loch Leven National Nature Reserve 2019 (c)Lorne Gill-SNH

Volunteers and reserve officer Jeremy Squire removing himalayan balsam from the shores of Loch Leven National Nature Reserve 2019 (c)Lorne Gill-SNH

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