A new map of Scotland’s land and freshwater habitats, adopting the European classification standard, has been unveiled by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
Based on best current information, the map is designed for use at national and regional scales as an aid to managing land and freshwaters in Scotland.
Susan Davies, SNH’s chief executive said: “This ground-breaking accomplishment puts Scotland at the forefront of the UK and on the European map – quite literally. It achieves an ambition of ours to support policy objectives and to make data publicly available.”
An early use could be in support of Rural Development Programme Farm Environment Assessments under the new Agri-Environment Climate scheme. This aims to benefit biodiversity, improve water quality, manage flood risk and mitigate and adapt to climate change. The map will also help in other ways to plan and measure work on restoring ecosystems, as set out in the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity.
Ed Mackey, SNH knowledge and information unit manager, said: “We now have a consistent baseline for policy applications such as ecosystem health assessment, natural capital accounting and habitat network analysis.
“We are also on the way to filling in local-scale detail, including mapping our most prized habitats of European importance: 51 habitats listed on Annex I of the Habitats Directive, including blanket bog, oakwood and the flower-rich machair of the Western Isles – plus eight in our surrounding seas.
“The adoption of European standards means that the map can be accessed and used by anyone, anywhere. This makes it easier to work together, saves money, and helps Scotland to fulfil international commitments to safeguard wildlife by 2020.”
Publication of the European Nature Information System (EUNIS) Land Cover of Scotland map follows three years’ work by SNH. The intention is that the EUNIS and upcoming Annex I habitat map will connect with the existing EUNISSeaMap, providing the first complete habitat map of Scotland’s land and seas.
Further details can be found on the SNH website.