Hydroelectric development planning tool

Our map helps planners and developers to select hydro development sites by showing which Scottish watercourses contain internationally important plantlife.

Water-loving moss and liverwort species – part of the oceanic bryophyte group – are nationally and internationally important. Our map shows the extent of moss and liverwort communities in more than 5,600 watercourses on Scotland’s west coast.

You may need to carry out a bryophyte survey to support your hydroelectric scheme proposal.

Explore the map

Bryophyte map
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Search the map for a watercourse by:

  • entering a place name or postcode
  • using the zoom and pan tools to navigate to an area
  • holding down the shift key and clicking on the map to make a box around an area of interest Colour-coded circles show if a specific watercourse is important – the key explains the categories.
  • Click on a circle to see which species are present.

Map development

Individual watercourses, or sites with multiple watercourses, were assessed for their known or potential importance. We looked only at the impact of water abstraction on oceanic bryophytes.

Planners and developers must also consider the direct impacts of construction on important bryophyte habitats, e.g. springs, ancient woodland, deadwood and bogs.

Our film explains why this group of plants is important. 

Oceanic ravines: an introduction to their special plants
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Steep wooded ravines in the west of Scotland are beautiful examples of our Celtic Rainforest. In this video NatureScot’s David Genney gives an introduction to the character of these hidden places and to the special plants for which this cool rainforest is so important. The film was also developed as an information and training video to help hydro developers better understand the potential impacts of water abstraction on an internationally important assemblage of mosses and liverworts.

For full details of the methodology and geographical limits of the assessment, read
NatureScot Commissioned Report No. 449b: Bryological assessment for hydroelectric schemes in the West Highlands

We thank the Biological Records Centre and British Bryological Society for allowing us to access the data used in the bryophyte sensitivity assessment.

Find out more

NatureScot Commissioned Report No. 421: Assessing the impacts of small scale hydroelectric schemes on rare bryophytes and lichens

Last updated:


Mike Shepherd

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