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Protected species

Many species of plant and animal are protected by law. Find out more about what is protected and what this means. ​

Certain species are protected by law, meaning that it can be illegal to kill, injure or capture birds or animals or to pick or damage certain wild plants. Explore our A–Z guide to read about Scotland’s hundreds of protected species, including our summaries of offences in relation to each.

Learn about the legal framework that safeguards protected species in Scotland. If you are planning to carry out an activity that might affect a protected species you may need a licence before you begin. Find out about our role in licensing.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to act within the law. Find out about your specific responsibilities as a developer or ecological consultant, researcher or member of the public.

Wildlife crimes involve people breaking the laws meant to safeguard our protected areas and protected species. Scottish Natural Heritage is committed to preventing wildlife crime and enforcing the law.

Freshwater pearl mussel, a critically endangered mollusc, is a wildlife crime priority. The Pearls in Peril project aimed to safeguard important populations of this protected species to ensure its survival in Great Britain.​