What are National Nature Reserves?
National Nature Reserves (NNRs) are areas of national importance for habitats and wildlife. They are designated places where the public can come and appreciate these special features.
Why is Ben Lawers a National Nature Reserve?
Ben Lawers NNR includes nine mountains in the Lawers and Tarmachan ranges, and has the most extensive populations of arctic-alpine plants in Britain including some extremely rare and threatened species and communities.
When the National Trust for Scotland purchased the land, over 60 years ago, conservation was its principle aim. It has remained its main consideration ever since then. In the 1970s, the land was designated a National Nature Reserve by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
The Reserve's name was taken from the principle mountain within the range: Ben Lawers, which, at 1214 metres, is the highest mountain in the central highlands.
Managing the NNR
The management of such a significant Reserve (combining conservation with public access) requires careful planning and considerable financial commitment. As a charity, the Trust is dependent on membership income and donations but, as an ‘approved body', it also receives vital financial support from Scottish Natural Heritage for its conservation work.
A team of experienced ranger/naturalists manage the Reserve on a daily basis and ensure that the conservation programme is carried out successfully. They plan the work with the Trust's conservation department and in collaboration with SNH. They are aided by seasonal staff in the summer months, and also by volunteers.
Why visit Ben Lawers NNR?
The Reserve is within a very scenic area overlooking Loch Tay. The fenced Nature Trail, set on the slopes of Ben Lawers, can be accessed by a minor road and has a car park. The herb-rich walks within the Nature Trail are suitable for walkers with a reasonable level of fitness.
For hill walkers, the seven Munros that make up the National Nature Reserve are very popular.
Conserving the NNR
More than 30,000 people climb the hills every year. They are often unaware of the huge wealth of plant and animal life existing nearby – but the popularity of Ben Lawers NNR has taken its toll on the fragile mountain vegetation.
Successful conservation of the Reserve requires detailed knowledge of its important features. Long-term monitoring is vital. Monitoring the NNR is fundamental when evaluating the impact of visitors and the whole management of the Reserve.
The Case Study
This case study provides papers on a number of significant features within the National Nature Reserve, along with the management undertaken in order to conserve its important features.
Each subject is explained individually. However, our Management Policies integrate a wide range of objectives so that we can achieve a holistic approach to conservation.
Ben Lawers NNR: An overview of management
Conserving the plants of Ben Lawers NNR
Footpath management of Ben Lawers NNR
Ben Lawers Treeline Woodland/Montane Scrub Project
The Lichens of Ben Lawers NNR
The Mosses and Liverworts of Ben Lawers NNR