THEY are some of Scotland's most vulnerable coastal and island species which conservationists say are at risk of extinction.

According to the latest Nature of Scotland report some one in nine species are at risk across Scotland.

Now there are plans to save more than 40 of the most vulnerable coastal and island species from the great yellow bumblebee and the natterjack toad to the Scottish primrose and the little tern.

A four-and-a-half-year partnership project, concerned about an "unprecedented rate of species decline" have compiled the Red List of species targeted by the project which are all under threat.

Some 19 are threatened by land use change, eight from climate change and the remainder through a combination of influences such as pollution, invasive non-native species and exploitation.

READ MORE: Brexit threatens to wipe out Scotland's rarest animals and put at risk iconic landscapes

The Species on the Edge campaign, a partnership project by Scottish Natural Heritage involving Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, The Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife Scotland and RSPB Scotland aims to spark to life conservation action across Scotland’s coasts and islands.

Initial development of the project is estimated to cost £0.5 million and has been kick-started by a National Lottery Heritage Fund award of over £260,000, ensuring crucial work could go ahead.

Other birds on the Red List include the Greenland white-fronted goose, lapwing, curlew and corncrake.

Other creatures being targeted include the small blue butterfly, the narrow-mouthed whorl snail, the tadpole shrimp, the plantain leaf beetle and brown long-eared bat.

Francesca Osowska, SNH's chief executive chief executive said: "Species on the Edge is among the UK’s most ambitious nature projects to date, combining knowledge, expertise and resources to save Scotland’s nature for future generations.

A children's song in praise of the yellow bumblebee.

“People know that climate change is a big issue but not as many know that biodiversity loss is also a global and generational threat to human well-being. But it’s not just about conservation - enriching our nature is also part of the solution to the climate emergency too.”

The Herald revealed in November, 2018 that at-risk animal species such as the red squirrel, some birds of prey and sea mammals are in jeopardy because of lack of action in ensuring vital environmental protections are provide in Scotland after the UK quits Europe.

Among the concerns of the Scottish Environment LINK (SEL) union of conservation groups was that there was no mechanism to replace the European Commission's LIFE-Nature Fund which has given £25 million over 25 years to Scotland to help with more than 25 vital conservation projects protecting the country's at-risk wildlife and landscape.

They said all were are at risk if no alternative funding is found through matching contributions from government or elsewhere if there is no way of continuing access to the fund through the Brexit negotiations.

The great yellow bumblebee, which is covered entirely with golden hairs with a distinctive black band, is found across Germany, Denmark, France, Finland and in some places across Great Britain.

Now one of the rarest bees, they are restricted to flower-rich areas in the Orkneys, Scottish islands, and Caithness and Sutherland.

Conservationists say the principle causes of decline are the loss of flower-rich meadows and the intensification of farming and grazing practices.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust says the current distribution of the bee reflects the distribution of flower-rich machair and locations where traditional crofting practices are still maintained.

The natterjack toad is threatened by the disappearance of coastal habitats and there are now only a handful of sites across the UK. The Solway Firth is the only place natterjacks can be found in Scotland.

Three years ago numbers had increased during a project at an RSPB Scotland reserve at Mershead in Dumfries and Galloway.


Concerns for their survival arose in 2013 after severe winter storms hit the area and destroyed sand dunes which the rare amphibians often hibernate in.

The Scottish primrose, dubbed the 'jewel of the north' with its five heart-shaped violet petals and bright yellow centre is found only in the north of Scotland and to flourish requires grasslands with carefully managed grazing, as populations are easily lost when more vigorous plant species are left to grow. It is classified as being "nationally scarce".

The little tern, is a chattering white short-taile bird with a distinctive yellow with black tip, and is on the decline.

Others the project aims to include vital pollinators like the great yellow bumble bee, rare Scottish moths such as the slender scotch burnet and wading birds such as lapwing and curlew.

There are only around 2000 pairs of what is the UK's smallest tern, with the largest colonies found along the east and south coasts of Scotland.

Last year, at Forvie National Nature Reserve in Aberdeenshire, 27 pairs attempted to breed but it appeared at the time that they have all failed, with bad weather in June partly blamed.

A project spokesman said: "It will combine expertise and resources for seven project areas, from the Solway to Shetland, benefitting over 40 vulnerable species."