EU Habitats Directive


In order to ensure the survival of Europe’s most endangered and vulnerable species, EU governments adopted the Habitats Directive in 1992.  It protects around 1200 European species which are considered to be endangered, vulnerable, rare and/or endemic.  Included in the Directive are mammals, reptiles, fish, crustaceans, insects, molluscs, bivalves and plants.  The protection provisions for these species are designed to ensure that the species listed in the Habitats Directive reach a favourable conservation status within the EU. (from Species protected under the Habitats Directive - European Commission)

The main aim of the Habitats Directive is to promote the maintenance of biodiversity by requiring Member States to take measures to maintain or restore natural habitats and wild species listed on the Annexes to the Directive at a favourable conservation status, introducing robust protection for those habitats and species of European importance. In applying these measures Member States are required to take account of economic, social and cultural requirements, as well as regional and local characteristics. (from EC Habitats Directive - JNCC)

Role of SNH and LNHG

Scottish Natural Heritage has a legal duty of surveillance for all Habitats Directive species that occur in Scotland. (see UK Habitats Directive Surveillance Approach - JNCC)   As such, SNH have asked us to ensure that LNHG members are aware of the importance of recording Habitats Directive species.

Lutra lutra
Otter in Ganavan Bay, a HD mammal

Types of Protection

Habitats Directive species are protected in various ways:

  • For those listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive core areas of their habitat must be protected and the sites managed in accordance with the ecological requirements of the species
  • For those listed in Annex IV, a strict protection regime must be applied across their entire natural range within the EU.
  • For those listed in Annex V, Member States shall, if deemed necessary as a result of surveillance work, take measures to ensure that their exploitation and taking in the wild is compatible with maintaining them in a favourable conservation status.

(abridged from Species protected under the Habitats Directive - European Commission)

List of Species

Species assessments - JNCC gives a list of all the HD species which occur in Britain, together with the Annex in which they are listed.  Some are listed in more than one Annex.

Summary of local interest species

Here is a short summary of some of the HD species of interest which might be seen in our area.

Hirudo medicinalis - Medicinal Leech.  Its only known Scottish localities are the Black Lochs, near Connel, and a loch on Islay.  It was also known on Lismore up to 1968 but has not been found there since despite searches.

Margaritifera margaritifera - Freshwater Pearl Mussel.  This occurs in Argyll, where it is severely threatened by pearl collectors.  Any records will be treated as sensitive and the location not publicised.

Euphydryas aurinia - Marsh Fritillary butterfly.  The great majority of Scottish populations are in Argyll.

Rana temporaria - Common Frog.  This is very common and ubiquitous in our area, but all records are still welcome.

Fish - A number of fish are on the list, not likely to be seen unless you go fishing.  Please have a look at the list if you do.

Marine Mammals - Just about all marine mammals are on the list, including Common and Grey Seals, Harbour Porpoise, Common and Bottlenose Dolphins, and many other less common species.

Land Mammals - All bats are on the list.  Also Otter, Wild Cat, Mountain Hare, Pine Marten and Polecat.

Buxbaumia viridis
The leafless moss Buxbaumia viridis, whose known range is increasing as people learn what to look for.  Who will be first to find it in Argyll?


Hamatocaulis vernicosus
The rare moss Hamatocaulis vernicosus, which occurs in quantity at Ardmaddy.  Protected by the EU Habitats Directive.

Bryophytes - all Sphagnum species are on the list.  The only other bryophtyes on the list that are currently known from our area are the widespread and conspicuous Large White-moss (Leucobryum glaucum) and Slender Green Feather-moss (Hamatocaulis vernicosus) which occurs at Ardmaddy.  The minute but remarkable "Bug on a stick" moss, Buxbaumia viridis, is mainly found in north and east Scotland but is worth looking for on rotting logs in damp woods in winter.

Lichens - The only HD lichens are all the species in subgenus Cladina of the genus Cladonia.  These are the "reindeer lichens" that grow on heaths and hills.  Of these, Cladonia portentosa is common, well-known and easily recognised.  I'm not familiar with the others but will look out for them.

Clubmosses - all except Lesser Clubmoss (Selaginella selaginoides) are on the list.  Fir Clubmoss, Stagshorn Clubmoss and Alpine Clubmoss are familiar to many of our members, and the rare Marsh Clubmoss, which grows on Rannoch Moor, is also included.

Ferns - The only HD species is Killarney Fern.  The gametophyte of this fern occurs in a few caves in our area.  The sporophyte occurred in the past but has not been seen in the last 100 years.  If rediscovered it would be a find of major significance.

Flowering Plants - The only ones that might be looked for in our area are Slender Naiad, which is known from Mull, Islay and Kintyre, and two species which are native to Britain but thought to be introduced in our area: Butcher's Broom and Floating Water-plantain.  But please report them anyway!

Remember you can view the full list here.

Recording Form

You can send in any sightings of HD species (or of non-HD species come to that) using the form below, or email with the details if you prefer.  If you are not sure of the identity of your species, please send a photo to, or put one on the LNHG Facebook page.

If you have a number of sightings or records, you can send them as an Excel spreadsheet, or sync them if you use Mapmate, or any other method that suits.  It is no problem at all if your list contains HD and non-HD species mixed together.  Don't bother sorting them, our database will do that.

Date of sighting  
Grid reference  
Name of finder  
Your name (if different)  
Email (not needed if I already know it!)  
Any other details, e.g. quantity, habitat, age/sex, behaviour, host tree, flowers visited etc (as appropriate)    


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
LNHG Biological Records Manager

Euphydryas aurinia
Marsh Fritillary, a HD species whose main Scottish populations are in Argyll


All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer except where stated.