Scottish Natural Capital Accounts: 2023

This report estimates quantity and value of services supplied by Scotland's natural capital.

3. Extent of habitats in Scotland

Scotland accounts for around 32% of the total UK land area. Figure 1 provides headline figures for extent by area of the seven terrestrial habitats in Scotland, using the broad classifications from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (PDF, 2.09MB), with summary area statistics from UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Land Cover Maps (LCM).

The predominant habitat types in Scotland's land cover are mountains, moorland, and heath (26%) and enclosed farmland (25%). Mountains, moorland, and heath habitats had the largest change in coverage between 1990 and 2021, with 633,108 hectares changing mostly to a combination of semi-natural grassland, fresh water, wetlands and floodplains, and woodlands. While urban areas increased the most in relative terms (46%), woodlands increased the most in area, by 418,998 hectares (42%). While 27% of land area in Scotland was farmland in 1990, by 2021 this area had decreased by 141,382 hectares to 25%, with 99,397 hectares of farmland becoming woodland.

Figure 1: Mountains, moorland, and heath habitat area in Scotland decreased by 24% between 1990 and 2021

Change of broad habitat extent in Scotland, 1990 to 2021

This information is presented in an interactive infographic which is available here.


1. Raster data were used from UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - Great Britain land cover maps for 1990 and 2021.

2. Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for LCM1990 Raster data for Great Britain. Rowland, C. S., Marston, C. G., Morton, R. D., and O'Neil, A. W. (2020). Land Cover Map 1990 (25 metre raster, Great Britain) v2 [Dataset]. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre.

3. Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for LCM2021 Raster data for Great Britain. Morton, R. D., Marston, C. G., O'Neil, A. W., and Rowland, C. S. (2022). Land Cover Map 2021 (25 metre rasterised land parcels, Great Britain) [Dataset]. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre.



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