Overview of site from north side, Loch of Kinnordy RSPB reserve, Scotland

Water and wetlands in Scotland

Water is a huge part of Scotland's landscape. We're helping to protect and restore freshwater habitats there through conservation and policy work.

Water and wetlands in Scotland

Scotland is a landscape rich in water – a country of rushing rivers, deep, clear lochs and magnificent wetland wildernesses such as the peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland.

In many cases, European or international recognition is given to the importance of our wetlands, through designation as Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation or Ramsar sites.

Sadly, many of Scotland's freshwater habitats have been damaged and polluted. Wetlands have been drained to allow for forestry, farming and development. We cannot continue like this - our climate is changing and we need to protect and restore our rivers and wetlands.

Restoring a lost inheritance

Insh Marshes is the jewel in Scotland's wetland crown. It's an amazing area of floodplain, where waters from the surrounding hills create a rich mosaic of grasslands, reedbeds, open waters and bogs, pools and mires. Its unspoiled character makes it a haven for birds such as spotted crakes, wintering whooper swans and hen harriers, as well as a rich diversity of plants and invertebrates. You can read more about the importance of Insh Marshes by downloading the document at the right of this page.

Loch of Strathbeg is Britain's largest dune loch, situated in Aberdeenshire on the north-east coast of Scotland. Tens of thousands of wild geese, swans and ducks arrive at Strathbeg each autumn and the site is internationally important for pink-footed geese (up to one-fifth of the world population feed and roost in the area each winter). In summer, the site plays host to wading birds such as lapwings, dunlins and golden plovers. You can also see butterflies such as the beautiful dark green fritillary on the reserve.

Influencing policy

In Scotland, we work closely with the Scottish Government, SEPA, Scottish Natural Heritage and others to ensure that the Water Framework Directive is being implemented effectively. This work is crucial if we are to achieve the ultimate target of getting all of Scotland's water bodies into Good Ecological Status by 2027.  

We are working to ensure the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act of 2009 will result in natural flood management measures being taken, giving benefits to people and wildlife. 

We aim to influence the water industry in Scotland and advocate the sustainable solutions which can maintain and improve water quality. For example, reducing pesticide pollution of watercourses through land management practices can reduce the need for costly treatment to eliminate pesticide residues from drinking water. 

These solutions also provide wider advantages for biodiversity and would help Scotland to meet its climate change commitments.