Hermaness NNR - About the reserve

Hermaness is managed to provide a range of habitats for breeding seabirds.




Managing habitats and inspiring people

Hermaness NNR stands at the most northerly point of the UK, amid the wild landscape of Shetland. It is fully exposed to the harsh North Atlantic Ocean. Magnificent cliffs adorn most of the reserve coastline. They are host to more than 100,000 breeding seabirds – one of the UK’s largest seabird colonies.

Hermaness is widely recognised as an important natural heritage asset for the community and rural economy of Unst and Shetland.

Island habitats and species

There is limited management we can undertake for the seabird colonies – other than to minimise disturbance. The success of the seabird populations depends on factors well beyond the control of the reserve – including climate change and shifting food sources. We do manage the extensive moorland to minimise damage and to restore eroded areas.

Engaging people with nature

We want visiting the reserve to be a memorable experience for everyone – one that inspires them to do something for nature. Hermaness attracts more than 6,000 visitors a year, the majority during the seabird season.

We make it as easy as possible to visit the seabird cliffs. The path is a combination of boardwalk and surfacing designed to minimise habitat erosion along the route. We provide information about the reserve and on what visitors can do to help the marine environment in their everyday lives.

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 Hermaness NNR:

• The Management Plan – sets out our priorities and tasks for managing the reserve between 2016 and 2026.
• The Reserve Story – an introduction to the natural heritage, historical interest, past management and designations which protect the reserve.

Protected areas

Hermaness NNR overlaps with two protected areas:

• Hermaness Site of Special Scientific Interest
• Hermaness, Saxa Vord and Valla Field Special Protection Area

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

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