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A Draft Framework for Biodiversity in Highland

Introduction to habitat topic papers.

The following sections give a broad overview of the biodiversity resource in Highland by habitat group, based largely on information already available elsewhere. Sources include SNH’s Natural Heritage Zone reports and discussions with key partners. This report seeks to both inform and act as a starting point for discussion. Each section includes:

a brief summary of the resource in Highland and its relative importance

an issues and themes section

details of priority BAP species recorded in Highland

other species of conservation interest

key objectives

current mechanisms for promoting biodiversity

policy measures required

potential practical opportunities for enhancing biodiversity and its sustainable use

survey/research information and requirements

The section summarising the resource focuses particularly on those habitats which have been identified as UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitats, although it also touches on other habitats, particularly where they are important for priority species. It has not been possible to obtain definitive figures on the relative extent of different habitats. In some case these do not exist as surveys are not complete, and where surveys do exist, figures have not been collated specifically for Highland. Distribution maps are currently being produced for all habitats for which there is survey information by SNH, and some of these should be available in the near future. Species listed as occurring within each habitat are not complete, but are intended to give an indication of the key species which are present.

To some extent priorities have been identified, where for example certain habitats or issues are of greater significance on a Highland-wide level. More detailed prioritisation will be required when Local Biodiversity Action Plans are prepared.

The biodiversity resource has been divided into six sections: the Seas; Coasts and Firths; Mountains, Heaths and Bogs; Farmlands and Lowland Grasslands; Forests and Woodlands; and Lochs, Rivers and Marshes. Inevitably this is an artificial division, as habitats are a continuum and do not operate in isolation. The papers should not therefore be read in isolation, particularly as the most fruitful opportunities for enhancing biodiversity are likely to be those which look at whole ecological systems.