Species on the Edge - About the Programme

Scotland's spectacular coasts and islands are amongst the most biodiverse areas in the UK, providing a last refuge for some of our most threatened species. Species on the Edge is taking action to save 37 of these, reversing declines, restoring their environment and ensuring their survival. We will raise their profile, create safe havens and reinforce the connection between people and nature to provide a legacy of action that will ensure future generations continue to be inspired by their natural environment.
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Saltmarsh at Northton, Isle of Harris

Who we are

Species on the Edge is a new ground-breaking partnership programme of NatureScot and seven nature conservation charities, all dedicated to improving the fortunes of 37 priority species found along Scotland's coast and islands.

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are delivering a four and a half year programme of work to tackle the impacts of environmental change on wildlife, to benefit both nature and people. The partnership consists of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, The Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, NatureScot, Plantlife, and RSPB Scotland.

Drawing on the knowledge and experience within the partnership, we have identified seven landscape-scale areas around Scotland’s coast and islands where collaboration will provide the greatest benefits. These seven areas are:

  • The Solway Coast
  • The Inner Hebrides, Argyll, Lochaber
  • The Outer Hebrides
  • North Scotland Coast
  • Orkney Islands
  • Shetland Islands
  • East Scotland Coast

Action in these areas includes:

  • survey and collation of conservation data to provide a better understanding of the issues;
  • working with communities to identify priorities and co-produce local plans;
  • enhancing habitat quality and availability;
  • sowing and growing vital host and food plants for vulnerable species;
  • excluding predators from sensitive sites;
  • removing invasive non-native species;
  • providing advice to landowners and local communities on management for biodiversity;
  • providing new volunteering and supporting opportunities for a range of participants;
  • creating opportunities for people to develop new skills;
  • developing and supporting community and creative culture events.

Learn more about our project areas.

Learn more about the programme in our Programme Brief.

Our vision

We are working with local communities in some of Scotland’s most remote areas to establish projects that provide a vital lifeline for our most nationally and internationally vulnerable coastal and island wildlife. Working together with local communities we aim to:

  • secure and improve the future for coastal and island species in Scotland;
  • form a support network between communities, to safeguard vulnerable biodiversity;
  • strengthen the partnership approach to conservation work in Scotland; and
  • raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity to Scotland.
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Infographic - Our priorities for Species on the Edge, identifying project areas, partnership working and species recovery targets.

Our species

We are working to secure a future for 37 threatened and vulnerable species found on Scotland’s coasts and islands. Species have been included in our list of priority species because they are:

  1. highly reliant on Scotland’s less intensively managed coast and island habitats for their continued survival;
  2. included as a priority on the Scottish Biodiversity List; and
  3. we are confident that collaborative action will provide the necessary conservation benefits.

Our 37 species are:

Community involvement

Human activities have contributed to the decline of some species but people are also at the heart of reversing this decline. Working with and through communities, local initiatives, and land managers, Species on the Edge is creating opportunities for people to get involved in efforts to save these species for future generations.

Through workshops, volunteering, and training opportunities, we are working with communities to identify barriers to participation, equality, or inclusion and will develop a programme to overcome this. We have invested in a programme of internship and mentoring, supporting a new generation of conservationists to gain training and skills.

A description can be found below
Species on the Edge volunteer trip to the Isle of Ulva

Our funding

The National Lottery Heritage Fund confirmed over £4m of funding for the programme in June 2022 (total programme cost of over £6.5m). In addition to the National Lottery players, thanks also go to all eight Species on the Edge partners, the Scottish Government, Esmee Fairbairn, the Dulverton Trust, the Banister Trust, SAC Consulting, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature for their funding and support.
Colourful machair on the Lewis coast.
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Only in the north-west of Scotland and Ireland do you find the ideal mix of features required for machair to thrive. Some rare species live in machair - the corncrake’s cry is still common, and you might spot a corn bunting. Machair is also the favoured habitat of the great yellow bumblebee.

Find out more

Species on the Edge - Project Area Summaries

Contact us

Please send all enquiries to: [email protected]

To keep up to date with the latest news and opportunities coming from the programme, follow Species on the Edge on Facebook and Twitter and sign up to our mailing list.

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