Wetlands, the intermediate habitat between dry land and open water, are important parts of the Scottish landscape. They slow water flow from rain to river and thus are important in reducing flood generation. They also filter water and remove sediment and nutrients that would otherwise put pressure on our lochs and rivers.

Wetland soils are often rich in organic material and the accumulation of more peat, or partly rotten plants, locks up significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Wetlands provide a living environment for a huge range of species, such as oystercatchers, otters and orchids.

Regulating wetlands

SEPA protects from significant damage those wetlands that derive their water from groundwater and surface water. For example we consider the impact on wetlands during our groundwater abstraction licensing and engineering licensing. Activities that might impact on wetland sites protected for nature conservation are primarily dealt with by Scottish Natural Heritage external link.

Influencing and partnership working

We created an easily usable way of naming the various major types of wetlands in Scotland. The wetland typology will help applicants to provide the right level of information to planners and regulators. We are using the wetland types to map wetlands across Scotland.

Management of wetlands can be funded through our SEPA Restoration fund. Management of fens, a particular kind of wetlands, is helped by the Fen Management Handbook that we developed with a wide range of UK partners.

Our planning advice directs impact away from wetlands where appropriate. This may include developments on peatland that could impact the water environment, or result in large volumes of excavated peat.

We work together with industry and have written best practice guidance that reduces environmental impact of hydropower and wind farms during the development stage.

We also chair the Scottish Wetland Forum under the Scottish Biodiversity Committee, which aims to provide a practical platform for wetland protection.

A functional wetland typology for Scotland

Title Size
SNIFFER - Field survey form pdf link 105k
SNIFFER - Field survey manual pdf link 5.0mb
SNIFFER - Field survey sheet pdf link 1.7mb
SNIFFER - Final report pdf link 311k
SNIFFER - Printing instructions for field manual pdf link 264k
SNIFFER - Project summary sheet pdf link 136kb