Why is Biodiversity important in Argyll and Bute?
According to experts, Argyll and Bute is considered to be a biodiversity hot spot with some of the best examples of a range of Land, Freshwater and Marine and Coastal Habitats and Species in the UK.
The many natural influences which have shaped our landscape as well as the myriad of man's activities, make Argyll and Bute unique.
Argyll and Bute's Land-use
The terrestrial environment in Argyll is made up of a complex mosaic of forestry, mountains and moorland, farmland and peatlands patterned by lochs and rivers. Argyll has a diversity of agricultural interests in the form of crofting, farming and estate. We also contribute to 20% of the broad-leaved forest cover of Scotland, although this only accounts for 2.6% of the land mass. It also has a high proportion of commercial forestry, 16% of Scotland's total, making up 21% of the regional land use. Over 50% of the rest of the region is a mosaic of heather moor/peatland, rough grassland and bracken scrub. A number of species associated with these habitats are the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix), and mammals such as the Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), and Pine Martin (Martes martes).
Argyll and Bute's Freshwater Habitats and Species
The freshwater environment in Argyll is varied, ranging from large lochs and rivers with medium water chemistries to tiny nutrient-poor, peat-stained lochans. Argyll contains the longest freshwater loch in Scotland (Loch Awe - 41kms) and the loch with the greatest surface area (Loch Lomond - 71kms²). Internationally important freshwater species exist in Argyll. The Freshwater Pearl Mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera), the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) and the Powan (Coregonus lavaret) are three such species. These freshwater inhabitants are good examples of why Argyll is important for biodiversity, but also why action plans need to be established to protect the resources. All three species mentioned above are under severe threat from inappropriate activities which are threatening the existence of the Argyll populations.
Argyll and Bute's Marine and Coastal Habitat and Species
The coastline of Argyll and Bute is one of it's most outstanding scenic assets, attracting thousands of visitors annually from all over the world. The coastline contains many habitats and species, some vitally important and rare marine and coastal habitats which include the strange and unique serpulid reef in Loch Creran.
From a marine perspective, this area of the west coast of Scotland is very important I for a wide range of marine life which support a number of diverse interests,
-including fishing diving, whale and dolphin watching and research, Apart from the ever increasing numbers of seals, twenty three species of whales and dolphins have been identified in British coastal waters, and all have been seen off Argyll. Some of the best areas to spot these animals on a regular basis is off the islands of Coll and Tiree. the most regular
The Killer Whale (Orcinus orca), the Common Dolphin (Delphinus dephis) and the Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). Although these animals do not spend all year in Argyll and Bute waters, they are very important icons for Biodiversity, and a growing whale- watching tourist market is growing in the region.
On shore, the habitats of the coastal region support many important animal and plant communities. The world famous machair habitat is well represented in Argyll with 14% of the Scottish total, and equivalent to 10% of the world resource.
This habitat is extremely important for a number of plants and animals, not least the Corncrake (Crex crex). The machair of CoIl and Tiree is amongst the most important remaining strongholds for this globally-threatened species. Other Argyll islands and parts of the mainland are also crucial in securing the recovery of this bird.
Current Action for Biodiversity
In Argyll and Bute there are many examples of good practice in the management of our habitats and species. A number of land based schemes such as the Environmentally Sensitive Area Scheme, the Countryside Premium Scheme, the Organic Aid Scheme and the latest Rural Stewardship Scheme have provided the financial support for the crofting and farming communities to contribute to nature conservation which in turn supports Biodiversity.
The Tripartite Working Group - Concordat Report Area Management Agreement proposals for Fish Farms will help to address a number of issues that affect the farmed and wild salmonid species. There are many projects in the pipeline to provide opportunities to demonstrate good practice and raise awareness about our threatened habitats and species.
The biodiversity process in Argyll and Bute proposes to maintain and enhance our extensive variety of habitats and species. It will not only involve the many government and non-government agencies but each and every one of us.
For further information on biodiversity in Argyll and Bute, please contact our Local Biodiversity Officer.
Biodiversity Duty Reporting
This Report presents the Argyll and Bute Council Biodiversity Duty Compliance Report 2011-2014 which forms part of the National reporting and auditing of the Biodiversity Duty by public bodies and is now required by the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (2011) Scotland.
It reflects agreed activities as set out in the Argyll and Bute Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2009-2014 under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 which places a duty on all public bodies to further the conservation of biodiversity