MORE than 530 habitats and 600 species in Scotland are in "poor" condition, we can reveal.

Environmental and wildlife groups are calling for urgent action to combat the twin climate change and wildlife crises and help preserve Scotland’s natural heritage.

Here, we outline 10 of Scotland's key species under threat.

1 -  The Arctic skua

The Artctic skua has declined in Scotland by 81 per cent since the 1980s. Source, NatureScot.

2 - Common tern

Common tern numbers have dropped by 48 per cent since the 1980s. Source, NatureScot

3 - Waders

Waders such as oystercatcher, lapwing, golden plover, knot and dunlin – have declined by 58 per cent. Source, NatureScot.

4 - Capercaillie

The Loch Lomond Capercaillie population became extinct post-2000. Source, State of Nature Report, 2019.

5 - Curlew

Curlew numbers have fallen by 48 per cent since 1995. Source, State of Nature Report, 2019.


6 - Hedgehogs

Of 6413 species found in Scotland, 11 per cent - around one in nine - have been classified as threatened with extinction from Great Britain. They include the hedgehog. Source, State of Nature report, 2019.

7 - Dolphins

The white beaked dolphin is found in the sub-polar waters of the north Atlantic Ocean, but rising sea water temperatures are reducing the dolphins’ range, pushing them further north, away from Scotland. Source, Scotland’s Nature On Red Alert

8 - Butterflies 

The average number of butterflies seen in Scotland this summer was down by seven per cent from last year. Unseasonable conditions linked to climate change have had a significant impact on numbers.

A total of 27,997 of the insects were recorded in Scotland, part of 1,238,405 counted across the UK.

Some of the country’s best loved butterfly species, including small tortoiseshell and peacock, are among those in decline in Scotland. Butterflies and moths are important indicators of the health of the environment, so declines are a serious cause for concern.  Source, 2021 Big Butterfly Count

9 - Wildcat

A 2019 report found the Scottish wildcat was on the verge of becoming genetically extinct, with as few as 30 left in isolated pockets of the Highlands.

The wildcat – also known as the Highland tiger – is one of the UK’s most endangered mammals. Their numbers have plummeted due to habitat loss, disease, human persecution, interbreeding and road deaths.

10 - Bees

The world’s food production and ecology relies on pollination by bees but they are being affected by pesticide use, loss of habitat and climate change.

In 2017 the Scottish Government launched a 10 year Pollinator Strategy, and said that since 1980 the number of pollinating insects - honey bees, bumble bees, the solitary bee, butterflies and hoverflies - had declined by around 51 per cent. Source, Scottish Government.

How Green is Scotland? is a week-long series for The Herald by The Ferret, an award-winning investigative journalism platform in Scotland.

It is an editorially independent, not-for-profit co-operative run by its journalists and members. You can join for £3 a month here.