The results of the biggest and most comprehensive survey of Scotland’s countryside and its natural resources are unveiled in a report published today (25th June).
The results identify how the main features of the countryside have changed and include fields, woods, ponds, heath and heather moorland areas, hedges and streams. They show how numbers of plant species have responded to changing land use, how habitat quality and vegetation condition has altered and how soils are recovering from the effects of acid pollutants.
Minister for Environment Roseanna Cunningham said:
“Scotland’s landscapes and wildlife are part of our national identity and fundamental to our health, well-being and prosperity. This report by the Countryside Survey partnership will assist us in managing the environment for a healthy and prosperous future and contribute to a wider knowledge base for education and research.”
The main findings in Scotland are:
- The general picture in Scotland across the past decade is of improved ecological condition of streams, recovery from acidification in soils and restoration of broadleaved woodland.
- Between 1998 and 2007 upland habitats remained stable to an extent. Grasslands, woodlands and arable areas showed larger shifts with the area of broadleaved and mixed woodland increasing by 9%, reflecting new planting and the diversification of felled plantation forest.
- Across the same period, changes in habitat condition indicate less intensive management of many habitats and increases in tall, fast-establishing species resulting in net loss of species across many upland and lowland habitats.
- In headwater streams plant species richness was shown to have increased by 9%. The number of ponds also increased by 5%, mainly in the lowlands.
- Surface soils (less than 15cm deep) became less acidic indicating a gradual recovery from acid deposition in the past.