Beinn Eighe and Loch Maree Islands NNR - About the reserve

Beinn Eighe – the gateway to Wester Ross – features a wealth of woodland, upland and island habitats.



Managing habitats and inspiring people

Set up in 195, owned and managed by Naturescot, Beinn Eighe and Loch Maree Islands National NNR is the UK’s oldest National Nature Reserve. Its 48 square kilometres stretch from loch-side to mountain top. 

European Diploma of Protected Areas logo



Due to the exceptional European importance of the natural environment, Beinn Eighe is only one of 5 UK sites to be awarded a European Diploma of Protected Areas, which it has held since 1983.  This prestigious award is assessed  by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to promote the efficient protection and management of landscapes with special European significance.



Beinn Eighe is one of six NatureScot NNRs where repeat fixed point photography is being used to map changes to natural habitats.  This involves re-taking historical photos at the same location, and at the same time of year, which can reveal visual changes of the natural and cultural landscape over several years or decades. This story map illustrates the changes that have happened.

Woodland habitats

Woodland restoration and expansion have been at the heart of our management of the reserve for over 65 years. This remains the case today. Our next steps will be to maintain and enhance the existing woodland while encouraging natural regeneration.

This will expand the ancient Caledonian pinewoods on the reserve and improve its connection to the wider Wester Ross landscape. We continue to collect local seed and grow it into local provenance saplings in our nursery for planting on the reserve or on neighbouring property.

Our vision for Beinn Eighe is a large, continuous, connected woodland supporting wider biodiversity and more able to withstand change.

Upland habitats

Beinn Eighe also has a wealth of upland habitats. To improve the condition of these habitats we will keep grazing and trampling impacts to sustainable levels. This will also allow natural processes to shape the habitats.

Engaging people with nature

We want visiting Beinn Eighe reserve to be a memorable experience for everyone. We already offer a comprehensive array of high-quality visitor facilities, many of which provide access for all abilities on the reserve. The visitor centre and range of trails – enhanced by interpretation boards and leaflets – also help us to achieve that.

We will continue to focus on connecting people with nature on the reserve and in the wider area of Wester Ross. Our aim is to promote Beinn Eighe and Loch Maree Islands NNR as a gateway to Wester Ross.

Beinn Eighe Britain’s oldest National Nature Reserve in winter.
Click for a full description

A short introductory film about Beinn Eighe NNR in NW Scotland.
Copyright of NatureScot, All rights reserved.
Audio from the BBC SOUNDFXCD's, used under license.

Management planning

We plan our management carefully to make sure that the special qualities of the reserve thrive. In this way it will always give visitors an enjoyable experience and engage people with nature.

We produce 10-year management plans for our reserves. Find out more about how we manage Beinn Eighe and Loch Maree Islands NNR:

Protected areas

Beinn Eighe and Loch Maree Islands NNR overlaps with a number of protected areas, including:

Find out more about of these protected areas and their designated features by searching the map.

Related Links