Species on the Edge - Safeguarding Coast and Island Wildlife

Sculpted by wind and waves, Scotland’s coast and islands are amongst the most biodiverse areas in the UK.

Capitalising on the expertise and knowledge within Species on the Edge partner organisations, we will work on nine species recovery projects in seven coast and island landscape areas. The partnership will prepare joint work plans and share staff to achieve maximum benefits for more than 37 vulnerable and threatened species.

Blue and purple oyster plant on gravely sand.

Species Projects

Species are included in the projects 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.

The nine projects and species they cover are:

  • Coastal Treasures of the Eastern Solway: amphibian and reptiles, primarily natterjack toad.
  • Bees on the Edge: great yellow bumble bee, moss carder bee and the northern colletes mining bee.
  • Invertebrates on the Edge: tadpole shrimp, medicinal leech, bordered brown lacewing, short-necked oil beetle and plantain leaf beetle.
  • Jewels of the north: Scottish primrose, purple oxytropis, Irish lady’s tresses, eyebrights, and oysterplant.
  • Rockin’ the Blues: small blue and northern brown argus.
  • Protecting Scotland’s Island Wonders: common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, brown long-eared bat and Daubenton’s bat.
  • Farming Horizons: Greenland white-fronted goose, red-billed chough, lapwing, curlew, dunlin, red-necked phalarope, twite and corncrake.
  • Terning the Tide: Arctic tern, common tern and little tern.
  • A Brighter Future for Herb-rich Pastures: marsh fritillary, New Forest burnet moth, slender Scotch burnet moth, transparent burnet moth and Talisker burnet moth.
Species on the Edge - Infographic - Project areas


Infographic - Species on the Edge project areas identifying species groups for targeted action.

Project area summaries


Some of our species have highly specialist requirements but, where possible, the programme aims to achieve multi-species benefits. For example, managing grazing pressure at some sites will benefit breeding waders, as well as plants such as Irish ladies tresses, by reducing the effects of trampling and erosion. Encouraging the re-establishment of sensitive, less-intense farming practices along coastal sites can benefit both our endemic Scottish primrose and our native pollinator populations; whilst managing scrub encroachment and the encroachment of non-native invasive species can benefit native plants, it also gives the opportunity for invertebrates, butterflies and moths to flourish.

Scottish Primrose (Primula scotica) Yesnaby, Orkney

Populations that have reduced to unviable levels may need greater assistance. For example, historic records show that medicinal leech, tadpole shrimps and purple oxytropis used to be much more extensive, so following guidance in the Scottish Code for Translocations, we will explore reintroductions to re-establish lost populations of these species.

Our third conservation workstream will raise awareness and build a legacy programme to sustain the work beyond the programme into the future. Working with and through communities, the partnership will use its collective contacts, skills and knowledge to support new networks and provide the training and skills needed to help establish a future for both nature and people.

Burnet with pollinia

    The map below shows seven landscape areas which host the rarest and most threatened species found along Scotland's edge.

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