SPA description
(information as published 2001)

North Sutherland Coastal Islands

image: SPA location map 


The North Sutherland Coastal Islands SPA comprises two islands off the north coast of Sutherland in northern Scotland: Eilean nan Ron off the Kyle of Tongue, and Eilean Hoan at the mouth of Loch Eriboll. These islands have a rocky coastline and are covered by maritime heath and grassland. The more sheltered, central area around the abandoned township on Eilean nan Ron was previously cultivated and is now dominated by rank grassland communities. Eilean Hoan is formed largely of Durness limestone, and accordingly there is a range of limestone plant communities influenced by salt spray and by previous cultivation. Most of the island is covered by a range of grassland communities, although at the north-west end there is a small area of maritime heath, as well as small areas of nutrient-enriched vegetation close to colonies of breeding gulls. The islands support a traditional wintering flock of Greenland Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis. The birds roost and feed on both islands, as well as on other small islands outside the SPA, and on agriculturally improved land on the nearby mainland.


Qualifying species

For individual species accounts visit the Species Accounts section


This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:


Over winter;
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis, 631 individuals representing at least 2.3% of the wintering population in Great Britain (4 year peak mean, 1992/3-1995/6)



Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.
Note that sites selected for waterbird species on the basis of their occurrence in the breeding, passage or winter periods also provide legal protection for these species when they occur at other times of the year.