Highlands & Islands

Scotland's saltmarshes mapped for first time

Saltmarsh Image copyright Thinkstock

The saltmarshes of Scotland's coast have been mapped for the first time.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) spent three years surveying the habitats.

The two agencies mapped and evaluated the condition of marches larger than seven acres (3ha) or longer than 1,640ft (500m).

Almost 250 sites on Scotland's mainland and islands were visited and 14,332 acres (5,800ha) in total was mapped.

Saltmarshes can usually be found at the top of the sea shore around the Scottish coast and provide an important habitat for birds.

Most of these areas are found in the Solway Firth in the south west of Scotland.

Prof Stewart Angus, from SNH, said: "The Scottish Saltmarsh Survey report gives us a really valuable 'snapshot' of a habitat that is likely to change considerably in coming years as a result of climate change."

Dr Clare Scanlan, of Sepa, added: "Saltmarsh is a sensitive habitat that could play an important role in relation to coastal flooding, and we are using the results of this national survey to help us in reporting the ecological status of saltmarsh for the EU Water Framework Directive."

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