The information presented herein has been adapted from part of an extensive Planning Study financed primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund whose support for a comprehensive survey of the Isle of Bute, through its Landscape Partnership Scheme, is hereby gratefully acknowledged.

BUTE'S BIODIVERSITY

1. MLURI LAND COVER

Analysis of the MLURI Land Cover Map and Table shows that 45% of Bute is improved grassland. A further 17% is rough grassland habitats and 15% is heather moorland or peatland habitats. These proportions are illustrative of the dominance of dairy farming on the island.

[cf map of landcover at bottom of this page.]

Table: MLURI Land Cover Data

2. DESIGNATED SITES

There are two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on Bute, one of which, the Central Lochs, Bute SSSI is comprised of 6 separate sites.

(a) North End of Bute SSSI covers 934 hectares, and was designated in 1986 for the upland and woodland habitats it supports, and the bird species found in these habitats.

This SSSI contains a continuum of habitats from open heather and purple moor-grass dominated moorland, through to oak and birch woodlands, which in the north and east of the site represent the best examples of native deciduous woodland on Bute. They are particularly rich in the mosses, liverworts, lichens and ferns that characterize oakwoods on the oceanic west coast of Britain. This variety of habitats provides refuge for an exceptionally high number of breeding birds, and it is one of the most important ornithological sites in central Strathclyde. Species present include hen harrier, merlin, peregrine, buzzard, sparrowhawk, and red-throated diver.

(b) Central Lochs, Bute, SSSI totals 187ha in area, and was first notified in 1971 for the overwintering roosting habitat the lochs provide for greylag goose and other waterfowl such as teal and goldeneye, and because Loch Fad supports the only Scottish population of violet crystalwort, a small thalloid liverwort which is classified as 'vulnerable' in Britain.

3. ANCIENT WOODLAND INVENTORY FOR BUTE

This contains records for 145 woodland blocks totalling 970ha of ancient woodland. This represent over half of the woodland area on Bute, and 7.8% of the total area of whole island. The majority of the ancient woodland is long-established of plantation origin, but nearly two-fifths is semi-natural in origin.

4. EXISTING SPECIES RECORDS

The most widely distributed protected plant species on Bute is bluebell, which occurs within many of the woodland areas noted above, particularly in the north of the island. Many of the other rare or scarce plant species, such as chamomile, corn spurrey, large-flowered hemp-nettle, shepherd's cress and wild pansy, are arable weeds whose decline nationally is associated with intensive agricultural production and the widespread use of herbicides.

5. RANGE OF HABITATS

Although a relatively small island, Bute has a rich mosaic of habitats which include:
  • coastal and marine habitats
  • grassland habitats
  • riparian habitats
  • inland water
  • heathland and peatland
  • broadleaved woodland and scrub woodland
  • coniferous plantations and mixed woodlands
These habitats support a wide range of faunal species including both common and protected species. Of particular note are the following species of conservation concern present and breeding on Bute: Birds:
  • Hen Harrier, Circus cyaneus
  • Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus
  • Merlin, Falco columbarius
  • Red Throated Divers, Gavia stellata
  • Black Grouse, Lyrurus tetrix
  • Skylark, Alanda arvensis
Mammals:
  • Otters
  • Water Vole
  • Bats
  • Brown Hare
Invertebrates:
  • Scottish Wood Ant
  • Dragonflies and Damselflies
  • Butterflies, e.g. Marsh Fritillary, Pearl Bordered Fritillary
Amphibians and Reptiles:
  • Great Crested Newt
Fish:
  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Sea Trout
  • Allis Shad
  • Twaite Shad
In addition to the above are many other species which, while not ‘protected', contribute positively to the natural heritage interests of Bute. For example, Bute is seasonally visited by migrating geese (e.g. Greenland White-Footed Goose and Greylag Goose). Grey seals are a popular feature of the coastline and deer (Roe and Red deer) can be sighted in the landscape.

5. ARGYLL AND BUTE LBAP

The Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) for Argyll and Bute contains a range of Habitat Action Plans (HAPs) and Species Action Plans (SAPs) that are relevant to the Isle of Bute.

Table: Aspects of the Argyll and Bute LBAP relevant to Bute

6. SUMMARY OF HABITAT TYPES

The table below contains a summary of the main characteristics and distribution of habitats, shown on the map.

BUTE'S NATURAL HERITAGE SUMMARISED

  • The Island of Bute hosts a wide range of habitat types from intensively farmed to open moorland and bog, and from woodland to coastal habitats.
  • The whole island is a tightly packed mosaic of different ecologically valuable habitats that support a wide range of plants, animals and birds. This biodiversity is of particular value as it supports a range of species listed in the Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan, and several areas have been designated for their ecological value.

[Top of page]



The information presented herein has been adapted from part of an extensive Planning Study financed primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund whose support for a comprehensive survey of the Isle of Bute, through its Landscape Partnership Scheme, is hereby gratefully acknowledged.