Ramsar sites

Ramsar sites are designated under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, which was adopted in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran.

Ramsar sites are classified under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

The mission of the Convention is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.

The UK Government signed up to the Convention in 1976.

Globally, more than 2,200 sites across 169 countries are included on the List of Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar List).

Find out more on the Ramsar website.

Ramsar sites in Scotland

Scotland has 51 Ramsar sites designated as internationally important wetlands, covering a total area of about 313,000 hectares.

Most Ramsar sites in Scotland are linked to the European site network - either as a Special Protection Area (SPA) or Special Area of Conservation (SAC).  All are underpinned by Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).  These sites may be of importance for their wide variety of waterbirds, bogs, lochs, coastal wetlands and other water-dependent habitats and species.

Learn about designating Ramsar sites on the Ramsar website.

Protection of Ramsar sites

In 2019 Scottish Government reiterated and clarified their policy regarding Ramsar sites.  Any references to Scottish Planning Policy 2014 should now refer to policy 4 of the 4th National Planning Framework (NPF4).

Ramsar sites are protected through measures to protect and enhance the European sites (and SSSIs, where relevant) that they overlap with.

We also include Ramsar sites in our Site Condition Monitoring programme.

If you manage land or water within a Ramsar site, you may be able to get funding to help you carry out appropriate conservation management. Find out about the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP).

You can also read about managing Ramsar sites on the Ramsar website.

Find Ramsar sites in Scotland

Search for a Ramsar site in Scotland on SiteLink:

  • by using the interactive map
  • by entering the site name or local authority
  • by designation type – i.e. Ramsar site

Or view a list of all designated and proposed Ramsar sites in Scotland on the Joint Nature Conservation Committee website. Click on the ‘New Site Code’ for any site to see the Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands for that site.

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