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Ramsar sites

What does Ramsar stand for? It's actually the name of a town in Iran where the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance was adopted in 1971. The UK Government signed up to the Convention in 1976.

The mission of the Convention is "the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world".

A worldwide network

Currently 164 countries have signed up as Contracting Parties to the Convention with 2083 wetland sites designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. The international website for Ramsar external site  has lots more background information about the network of Ramsar sites across the world, including details of:

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance
  • Selection criteria for Ramsar sites
  • Management tools for wetlands of international importance

Ramsar sites in Scotland

There are currently 51 Ramsar sites designated as internationally important wetlands in Scotland, covering a total area of about 313,000 hectares.

All Ramsar sites in Scotland are also either Special Protection Areas (SPAs) or Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) (Natura sites), and many are also Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), although the boundaries of the different designations are not always exactly the same. It is not surprising that internationally important wetlands are also of European interest for a wide variety of waterbirds, bogs, lochs, coastal wetlands and other water-dependent habitats and species. Although there is no specific legal framework that safeguards Scottish Ramsar sites, they benefit from the measures required to protect and enhance the Natura sites and SSSIs which overlap them. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) also includes Ramsar sites in its site condition monitoring programme.

If you manage land or water within a Ramsar site you may be eligible for funding to help you carry out appropriate conservation management through the Scotland Rural Development Programme Rural Development Contracts.

Site information

  • Boundaries and basic information for Ramsar sites in Scotland can be viewed using SNH's Sitelink external site function, or use the simple map below to locate sites.
  • More detail about sites and their specific interests is transmitted to the Ramsar organisation using Ramsar Information Sheets external site . These are available on the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) website for sites in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK.


Last updated on Thursday 11th December 2014 at 09:53 AM. Click here to comment on this page