Nature reserves are areas containing wildlife populations and/or habitats that require certain protections. In Perth and Kinross, there are several nature reserves and designated areas which you can visit.
Visiting a nature reserve or designated area
Listed below are some places you can visit to enjoy seeing wildlife within specially protected areas. Please follow the guidance given in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code to ensure you do not cause disturbance to wildlife or others who are also visiting to enjoy these special places.
National Nature Reserves
- Loch Leven National Nature Reserve This NNR boasts a rich history and diversity of wildlife and habitats, from wet grasslands to reed beds. Loch Leven is home to one of the largest breeding duck populations in Europe, as the great expanse of open water provides enough resources for countless birds. There is always something to see, whether it's the wintering wildfowl or osprey fishing during the summer.
- Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve Found just to the north of Loch Tay, Ben Lawers is famed for its huge diversity in plant life. The rare mix of lime-rich underlying rocks, range of altitudes, and climate has resulted in everything from the abundant vegetation of the lower slopes, to the small arctic-alpine plants that strain for survival near the mountain tops. If you manage to reach the top of Scotland's tenth highest Munro on a clear day, you will be met with incredible views.
Local Nature Reserves
- The Inner Tay Estuary Local Nature Reserve The inner estuary of the River Tay contains the most extensive continuous reed beds in Britain. The LNR contains many diverse habitats including mudflats, beaches and dunes which support a variety of wildlife. The Tay estuary holds populations of birds that have been recognised as having both national and international importance.
Other protected areas
There are lots of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in Perth and Kinross and many of these are accessible to visitors. A SSSI may be designated for a number of reasons from botanical interest (plants) to geological interest (rocks).
Some of the other designations in Perth and Kinross include, Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). The River Tay is an example of a SAC - it is protected because of the variety and number of birds that use it, as well as some of the special animals that live in it, including the Freshwater Pearl Mussel.
There are other places you can visit to get up close to wildlife
The Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre, run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) has a viewing area, bird hide and a live nest camera to give you spectacular views of some of the wildlife that visits the loch - including the magnificent Ospreys.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has a visitor centre and reserve at Loch Leven (Opens a new window). This includes a small area of the National Nature Reserve. As well as bird hides, there is an indoor viewing area where visitors can make use of telescopes and binoculars.