Key habitats

The National Trust for Scotland manages a vast mosaic of habitats, from grasslands bursting with precious wildflowers to peatlands rich in carbon reserves.

From the mountains of Torridon and Kintail, to the woodlands of Mar Lodge Estate National Nature Reserve and islands like Fair Isle and Iona, we care for a enormous variety of landscapes. Different habitats suit different kinds of animals and plants – the mud flats at Montrose Basin Local Nature Reserve are ideal for waders and waterfowl, while the shell-sand and grassland on Canna provide a great home for rare butterflies, moths and flowering plants.

Our habitats form a complicated network, supporting a vast amount of Scotland’s wildlife. These habitats exist side by side, feeding into one another and working together; species move from place to place. Our habitats are changing all the time.  Some changes look good to us, others look bad.  Spreading native woodland is good in many, but not all, places, transport upgrades can help more people experience our heritage but badly designed development in the wrong place can destroy habitats forever, rising ocean temperatures can curb the amount of food available to some seabirds but be good for others and the arrival of invasive non-native species can threaten native plants on our mountains but many non-native plants are much loved for their beauty and can be good for bees. Whatever the impact, change is inevitable.  We take extra care to monitor our habitats and step in to protect them when necessary.

We also take every opportunity to celebrate the breathtaking natural places in our care. The more we learn about Scotland’s incredible habitats, the more fascinating they become.

Habitat facts

  • We look after 8 National Nature Reserves – Ben Lawers, Glencoe National Nature Reserve, Staffa, St Kilda, St Abb’s Head, Beinn Eighe (Torridon), Corrieshalloch and Mar Lodge Estate.
  • The UK’s first National Nature Reserve was established in 1951 at Beinn Eighe.
  • Mosses and other peat bog vegetation remove carbon dioxide from the air in the same way as trees, making them crucial natural assets for combating climate change. We’ve estimated that the peat in our upland soils contains 27 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
  • Montrose Basin Nature Reserve acts as a stop-over for over 80,000 pink-footed geese during their autumn migration.
  • Caledonian pinewoods are directly descended from the first pines to arrive in Scotland around 7000BC. They’re one of three conifers native to the UK.



Almost two thirds of the Trust’s countryside is in the uplands.


Across Scotland you’ll find woodlands bursting with an abundance of wildlife.

Coasts and cliffs

The National Trust for Scotland’s coastal places are rugged, remote, mesmerising and mysterious.