Skip to main content

13 May, 2019

Statistical News Release: The Proportion of Scotland's Protected Sites in Favourable Condition 2019

An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland

13 May 2019 – Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has today released the latest figures tracking the proportion of Scottish natural features in favourable or recovering condition.

The main findings show that 78.9% of Scotland’s natural features on protected nature sites are either in or recovering towards a favourable condition. This figure represents a 2.9 percentage point increase since the current protocols were established in 2007, despite a 0.8 percentage point1 decrease since last year. A difference of less than +/-1 percentage point from last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change.

The report draws on annual monitoring carried out by SNH of the condition of the 5,388 natural features across Scotland , divided into three categories: habitats (78.9% in favourable condition), species (73.2% in favourable condition) and earth sciences, which includes geographical outcrops and landforms, fossil beds, and caves (97.6% in favourable condition).

Overall, the condition of 47 natural features on protected areas has improved to favourable or recovering condition, whilst 76 have deteriorated to unfavourable condition.

Other findings of note from the report include:

  • 17 natural features were assessed for the first time and were found to be in favourable condition, which were mainly bird (11) and earth science (3) natural features.
  • 8 natural features were assessed for the first time and were found to be in unfavourable condition, which were mainly upland (3) and coastal (2) natural features.
  • Amphibians saw an 8.3 percentage point increase in natural features in favourable condition, the largest increase overall, followed by upland with a 1.3 percentage point increase and grasslands with a 0.9 percentage point increase.
  • Non-vascular plants saw a 2.0 percentage point decrease in natural features in favourable condition, the largest decrease overall, followed by birds with a 1.8 percentage point decrease.
  • The natural feature types with the highest proportion in favourable condition were dragonflies (100%), marine habitats (98.1%), and earth science (97.6%). Dragonflies and marine habitats have remained stable since last year but earth sciences have seen a 0.3 percentage point decrease since last year.
  • The natural feature types with the lowest proportion in favourable condition were marine mammals (57.1%), woodlands (65.2%) and birds (67.9%). Marine mammals have been stable since last year but woodlands has seen a 1.5 percentage point decrease since last year and birds has seen a 1.8 percentage point decrease since last year.

Invasive species are the main reason for natural features being in unfavourable condition, representing 21.0% of all negative pressures. This category includes both native species such as bracken or nettles, and non-native species such as rhododendron or Japanese knotweed, the removal of these species has to be undertaken to promote recovery to favourable condition.

There are 424 natural features with no on-site remedy which is an increase from 398 last year. These are features where the pressure is beyond the boundary of the feature itself or nearby and so to bring these natural features into favourable condition is beyond local management.


Contact information

SNH Media

Notes to editors

Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at SNH is also on Twitter at

Scottish Natural Heritage’s Site Condition Monitoring programme began in 2005 to examine the condition and status of over 5,000 natural features on protected natural sites in Scotland. All features are considered to be important at the national (Sites of Special Scientific Interest), European (Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area) and international (Ramsar) levels. Research is carried out by SNH staff and specialist contractors.

The full statistical publication can be accessed at:

Official statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics (


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. So 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