About NNRs

What are National Nature Reserves?

A real accolade

The NNR accolade is awarded to the best nature reserves in Scotland. These are places where you can appreciate and be proud of Scotland’s wonderful nature.

All NNRs are home to nationally or internationally important species and habitats.

The reserves must be well managed for wildlife. They are also managed so that people can enjoy these special places. For example, visitor centres and trails are designed so that you can visit and explore without disturbing the habitats or wildlife.

Showcasing diversity

Together, Scotland’s NNRs celebrate the great variety of our habitats and species – from Caledonian pine forest to blanket bog, from seabird colonies to mountain plants.

You’ll find NNRs all over Scotland. The most northerly is Hermaness NNR at the very tip of Shetland. At the other end of the country, Caerlaverock NNR is on the shores of the Solway Firth.

There are 43 NNRs covering 154,250 hectares. The smallest – at less than 7 hectares – is Corrieshalloch Gorge NNR. The largest – at 29,324 hectares – is Mar Lodge Estate NNR.

Why have National Nature Reserves?

NNRs are areas of land set aside for nature. The main aims of managing them are:

  • to conserve their important habitats and species
  • to give people the opportunity to enjoy and connect with nature

NNRs include mountain tops, ancient woodlands, islands with huge colonies of nesting seabirds, and lowland lochs that are vital staging posts for migrating birds.

Ownership and management

Scotland's NNRs are owned and managed by public, private, community and voluntary organisations. Most are owned and managed by a single organisation, but some have several owners and managers.

The NNR Partnership represents these organisations and recommends which reserves should be awarded the NNR accolade.

The following organisations manage NNRs in Scotland:

Other protected areas

There are several laws protecting wildlife sites in Scotland. Much of the land within NNRs is also designated under national and international legislation that protects it.

Most NNRs are Sites of Special Scientific Interest and many are Natura sitesSpecial Areas of Conservation and/or Special Protection Areas. In many reserves, the land will have more than one designation on it.

Find out more about the different types of protected area.