Highland is the most biodiverse area in Britain
FORRES lies on the border of the most biodiverse area in Britain.
A new map on holidaycottages.co.uk names Highland region as the most biodiverse in the UK with 16,273 species while Moray ranks 71st with 6556 and neighbouring Aberdeenshire has 9300 ranking 26th.
Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie Fisheries Trust chairman Bob Laughton is not surprised the Highlands come out on top.
He said: "It's an interesting map and not surprising the Highlands and some of the other mountain areas come out on top. This reflects the fact that there is less influence by man's land management activities,
"However, in Moray, we work a lot on non-native species and that’s also had an influence on native flora and fauna."
Mr Laughton points out that, in general, Britain ranks very poorly in terms of overall biodiversity, largely due to centuries of land management, farming, urban and industrial development.
He said: "Northern Scotland hangs on to its wildlife a bit better. Red squirrel, pine marten, cross bills, otters etc are still regularly spotted but, judging from reports, may well be threatened.
"In the fish world, salmon numbers have declined and the eel is now becoming rare in many rivers. Artic charr will probably disappear if climate change continues at the current rate."
Mr Laughton belives that there is a perception that, as a generation grows up in an area, they come to accept it is the way countryside should look, when in fact, to improve biodiversity, it should be quite different.
He added: "A good example is Scotland's hills and glens; many are wide open moors but many of these areas should be more covered in forest. People accept this as the norm and like the view!
"Similarly, in agricultural areas, many natural marchlands, wetlands etc have been drained to provide farmland and this then becomes peoples perception of how the countryside should look."
To encourage biodiversity, Mr Laughton recommends a shift in thought and actions.
He finished: "There are moves to re-plant trees in the Highlands and put more emphasis on re-wilding areas which should improve wildlife. But they need more support, both financially and from the public, landowners and governments."