Invisible fencing, remote controlled flail mowers and Konik ponies are some of the measures being used by conservationists to help protect nationally and internationally important areas of Scotland.

RSPB Scotland launched the "innovative conservation techiques" as it launched a £2 million project supported by the EU Life fund to help boost special species and habitats at its 12 nature reserves.

The aim is to help ensure the survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.

Important wetland, forest and montane willow habitats will benefit from the "100% for Nature" projects along with key species including capercaillie, wintering geese, chough and breeding waders.

The group said that invisible fencing can manage dune systems on the Solway Coast.

Invisible fencing works by putting a cable under the ground and a vibrating collar on the cattle. If they go near the boundary the collar buzzes teaching the animals not go there.

The fencing has been seen by some as controversial with some believing that they are a danger to walkers and riders because they are not sure where they can walk.

Remote controlled flail mowers, designed to provide professional cutting of grass and heavy undergrowth, can also cut heather in the Ancient Pine Forest to increase the amount of blaeberry and improve conditions for capercaillie.

The Herald:

Grazing by Konik ponies will help restore Insh Marshes, some of the the most important wetlands in Europe and the largest floodplain fen in the UK.

The Insh Marshes, which cover 10 square kilometres of the River Spey floodplain between Kingussie and Kincraig in Badenoch and Strathspey play a vital role in managing floods by acting as a giant sponge, collecting about 1.6 square miles worth of water which is slowly released back into the rivers.

It also supports populations of breeding waders including curlew, lapwing, redshank and snipe.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland head of species and land management, said: "Improving key habitats for nature is at the heart of the RSPB's work.

"Many of our sites are protected nature conservation areas, which we regard as an accolade.

"We are delighted to be able to use such a wide range of innovative techniques to make our reserves the very best they can be for wildlife.

"We hope this work will also allow all those who manage land and other protected nature sites to benefit from the evidence we build over the lifetime of the project."

RSPB Scotland believe the move will also make an "important contribution" in the fight to tackle the climate and nature emergency. It said that protected areas are an "effective tool" for tackling the climate and nature emergency, when accompanied by measures to improve nature in the wider landscape.

Bringing Scotland’s most important nature sites into "favourable condition is therefore critical and requires collective and coordinated action from landowners across Scotland", it said.

"We hope that this project can provide some best practice techniques and contribute to that collective effort.

It added: "We take our domestic and international conservation commitments very seriously and wish to be an exemplar of best practice, including meeting our legal obligations to protect and enhance the most important natural heritage “features” of these sites.

"In Scotland, most of the protected features on our sites are in good conservation condition which is formally known as 'favourable condition', however our aim is to get 100% of the protected features on our land into favourable condition.

"This is a challenging ambition, however one that we think is deliverable over the project period. Our work will contribute also to Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy and meeting the obligations of the Aichi Biodiversity treaty."

The project – which will last for four years - involves a LIFE grant from the EU of just over £1.25m, while the RSPB is committing over £650,000 and NatureScot is giving £80,000.

The condition of protected areas is monitored in Scotland by NatureScot. If all features on a site have reached favourable condition it means that the land is being managed in a way which meets key objectives for nature.