Caring for Scotland's marine environment

Scotland’s coastal and marine environment is spectacular and diverse. With over 18,000km of coastline, in excess of 900 islands, and a great variety of coastal and marine habitats and wildlife that need to be cared for.

Health of the Marine Environment

The UK’s marine area covers nearly 880,000 km2. Scotland’s seas, from our shallow inter-tidal waters to the open oceans which are thousands of feet deep, make up 61% of the UK marine area.

Origins of modern conservation

There’s a long history to how nature conservation protections have developed which dates back to 1889 when Emily Williamson founded the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to stop the practice of indiscriminate killing of wild birds which then had their feathers stripped to put into woman's hats - the fashion of the day.

Legal and policy framework

In the 1940s nature conservation made it into the statute books with the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act (1949) which put in place the foundations for the National Parks we value today.

Marine spatial planning

The approach to environmental protection has developed and adapted over the years. Initially there was a focus on single species conservation and then the realisation that special places need to be identified to protect the habitats that single species depend on throughout their life-cycle.