The 100% for Nature projects

Most of the RSPB’s nature reserves in Scotland are on designated sites. We wish to be an exemplar of best practice, trialling innovative conservation techniques.

What we are doing

100% for Nature aims to boost the condition of the most important nature sites on 11 reserves to the highest level. It is funded by EU LIFE, the RSPB and NatureScot.

The aim is not only to improve the RSPB’s own reserves, but to offer science-based approaches that other landowners can learn and use.

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Scotland's 100% for Nature sites

Celebrating and protecting Scotland's special wildlife

Choughs at Islay and Oronsay chevron-down

These islands are key for Scotland’s declining chough population. Choughs traditionally nest in cave sites, but there aren’t any on these islands that are close to chough feeding areas. To help the survival of choughs, we’re building wooden shelters for them to nest in. These have already been used successfully in other parts of Islay. We’re also working to increase invertebrate populations they feed on.

Coastal dynamism at Culbin Sands chevron-down

This reserve is a network of important coastal habitats and is important for wintering wading birds. The ridge of sand and shingle above the tideline should move naturally each year, and become colonised by plants like marram grass, but woody scrub has started to dominate. We’re removing invasive scrub across 60 hectares of the reserve to restore its natural dynamism and benefit a range of species, including kidney vetch, seaside centuary, and small blue and dingy skipper butterflies.

Loch Lomond white-fronted geese chevron-down

This reserve and the surrounding area is a key wintering location for Greenland white-fronted geese. They arrive in the autumn and forage on roots and shoots in open fields, free of dense vegetation. In order to optimise foraging habitat for the geese, we’re purchasing a low-ground-pressure tractor and a range of cutting equipment which will enable us to enhance more areas of the reserve for this species.

Little terns at Tiree chevron-down

Tiree is an important island for wintering wading birds. On drier parts of the reserve, little terns and ringed plovers nest on areas of man-made gravel on former WWII runways. These nesting areas are vegetating over, making them less suitable, and breeding numbers of the two species are declining. We’re shallow-ploughing them to remove areas of vegetation and make it more suitable for nesting.

Intertidal habitats at Nigg and Udale Bay chevron-down

The intertidal habitats at Nigg and Udale Bay are important for wintering waterbirds such as bar-tailed godwits, curlews and wigeon. However, these habitats are threatened by the non-native common cord-grass, which can colonise mudflats and saltmarsh and grows to a greater height than the surrounding vegetation. We’re controlling this grass to restore affected areas, making them more suitable for feeding and roosting wading birds.

Managing grazing at Kirconnell chevron-down

Kirconnell is one of the largest expanses of saltmarsh in southern Scotland, a key habitat for wading birds. However, grazing is an increasing challenge here, resulting in the saltmarsh becoming unfavourable for species such as curlew. We’re starting to manage the levels of grazing by improving the infrastructure, with a view to making the area more favourable for curlews, lapwings and redshanks.

Oak woodland at Inversnaid chevron-down

Inversnaid supports an extensive area of ancient Atlantic oak woodland, which supports an incredible amount of wildlife. To secure the future of the woodland, new trees need to establish. The project will implement a fencing plan which will help exclude herbivores from key areas until the trees can establish, and monitor the number of herbivores using state of the art technology. These plans will also encourage wildlife from rare lichens to pied flycatchers.

Barnacle geese at Mersehead chevron-down

Mersehead is a stunning example of wetland habitat restoration, with impressive bird populations throughout the year, including an internationally-important wintering population of Svalbard barnacle geese. This project aims to improve the area for barnacle geese through targeted grazing and managing the drier grasslands for feeding them.

Konik ponies at Insh Marshes chevron-down

Insh Marshes is one of the most important floodplain wetlands in Europe, home to an array of rare and special plants, insects and birds. The floodplain creates the ideal conditions for developing Fen habitat here, but its quality and condition is gradually being reduced by the spread of reeds. We’ve introduced a small herd of Konik ponies to trial grazing the reed to improve the habitat.

Helping montane willows in the Cairngorms chevron-down

At Abernethy, we’re establishing a tree nursery to help increase the populations of rare montane willow species, currently only found in an isolated remnant populations. The tree nursery will give us cuttings and seedlings which we can plant on the reserve to support the existing remnant populations. We’re also working with other key landowners to improve conditions for these key plant species in the Cairngorms.

Capercaillie at Abernethy chevron-down

Our Abernethy reserve is a key home for capercaillie, and our ongoing work shows a need for specific habitat management here, to benefit both adult birds and chicks. Previous small-scale trials have shown positive responses, so we will carry out larger-scale trials using grazing and other techniques, and test whether we can improve the habitat for capercaillie as well as other pinewood wildlife.



Protected Areas

Protecting Scotland’s world-renowned wildlife

Protected Areas chevron-down

Scotland is renowned for its rich and varied wildlife. Many of the species and habitats found here are nationally and internationally important, and safeguarded by protected areas. The suite of more than 1,800 sites host nearly 5,500 examples of the very best of Scotland’s nature, including habitats like Caledonian pinewood, harbour seal and other species or geological formations such as fossil beds.

Many of the habitats and species in protected areas require active management. Evidence has shown that protected areas are an effective tool for protecting wildlife. However, protected areas must be embedded within nature networks - wider landscapes where action is being taken to protect and restore nature.

In Scotland, the effectiveness of protected areas is measured by looking at the condition of the special species, geology and habitats protected by the site. When they are doing well within the protected areas they are said to be in “favourable condition”. There has been progress in improving the condition of protected areas across Scotland, but more must be done to ensure that Scotland’s amazing nature sites are thriving and in the best possible condition.

The 100% for Nature project will contribute to that effort, benefiting species including choughs, Greenland white-fronted geese, Svalbard barnacle geese, ringed plovers, little terns, curlews, lapwings and redshanks.

Francesca Osowska, Chief Executive of NatureScot, said: "NatureScot is pleased to support this exciting project to improve the condition of protected areas on RSPB reserves. Protected areas play a critical role in safeguarding biodiversity. Ensuring that Scotland’s amazing nature sites are in the best possible condition will require collaboration and cooperation across government, landowners, businesses and NGOs. This project will make a great contribution to that effort."

To find out more about protected areas, visit:


Scotland’s Environment Web:

Protected areas represent the very best of Scotland’s world-renowned wildlife and will play a vital role in the fight against the nature and climate emergency. At RSPB Scotland, we are determined to ensure that protected nature sites on our reserves are well managed so that the special wildlife there is thriving and celebrated. We hope this project can provide some good practice guidance for other landowners in Scotland looking to protect and restore important nature sites.

Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland

Partners and funders