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12 May, 2017

Statistical News Release: The Proportion of Scotland's Protected Sites in Favourable Condition 2017

An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland12th May 2017


Scottish Natural Heritage has today released the latest figures tracking the proportion of Scottish protected natural features in favourable or recovering status.


The main findings show that of the over 5,000 natural features on protected nature sites in Scotland, 80.3% are either in favourable condition, or unfavourable but recovering towards a favourable condition. This figure represents a 0.1 percentage point decrease in the proportion of natural features in favourable or recovering condition between 2016 and 2017.


 There has been an 8.9 percentage point increase since assessment reporting began in 2005.


There are three broad types of protected features: earth science, which covers geological outcrops and landforms, fossil beds and caves (98.0% in favourable condition); species (76.1% in favourable condition) and habitats (79.3% in favourable condition).


All saw a decrease in the proportion of features in favourable condition since last year (species by 0.2 percentage points; earth science and habitats 0.1 percentage points). Of the individual feature types which are monitored, some feature types showed an increase in the proportion of features in favourable condition, some remained stable, whilst others decreased. Of particular note were fish features where the proportion in favourable condition rose from 76.1% in 2015/16 to 84.8% in 2016/17.


Invasive species and over-grazing are the main challenges to improving condition from unfavourable to favourable. The proportion of assessments recording invasive species as a negative pressure has risen for the past 5 years to 20.5% in 2016/17. This includes both non-native species, such as rhododendron in woodlands, and native species, such as birch encroaching on to raised bog habitats.


The proportion of assessments recording over-grazing by wild herbivores and/or domestic stock has decreased from 18.4% in 2015/16 to 18.0% in 2016/17.

Contact information

Fergus Macneill
Job Title
Media relations lead on Protected Areas
Scottish Natural Heritage
01463 725021

Notes to editors

1. The full statistical publication can be accessed at:


2. Features protected are species, habitats and earth science features 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.


3. The data used in the report primarily come from Scottish Natural Heritage’s Site Condition Monitoring programme


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


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

Tha Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba na buidheann comhairleachaidh dhan riaghaltas a thaobh nàdair agus seallaidhean-tìre air feadh Alba. 'S e an dleastanas a th' againn cuideachadh a thoirt do dhaoine gus tuigse, luach agus tlachd fhaighinn bho nàdar na h-Alba, an-dràsta agus san àm ri teachd. Airson tuilleadh fiosrachaidh, tadhail air  no lean sinn air Twitter aig