The island of Papa Stour and Lochs Long, Duich and Alsh

Good and Bad Practice Examples for ICZM


Co-ordinating body or lead partner of ICZM process or project (with a short description)

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) - Statutory nature conservation agency in Scotland, UK.


Location (community, province, country)

The island of Papa Stour and Lochs Long, Duich and Alsh.


When did the process start? Is it ongoing?

1996 (ongoing)


Who funded and/or initiated it? Is it part of a programme?

Use of GIS funded by SNH


What are the key issues, the main problems or conflicts?

The use of GIS in the designation of Marine SACs in Scotland


Ths UK is committed to implementing Habitats Directive. In Scotland, SNH are tasked with the identification of potential Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). In order to progress the identification of potential SAC, information is required about the habitats of the candidate sites. This information includes:

  • the extent of the habitats
  • distribution of the habitats
  • quality of the habitats
  • associated biotopes

This information will also allow SNH to:

  • set conservation objectives (as required by Directive)
  • inform management schemes


GIS Methodology employed

Data concerning the marine habitats was collected through acoustic remote sensing. Data collected included depth, bed hardness and roughness. Ground validation was achieved through remote video, grab sample & diver survey. Once particular bed characteristics were related to habitat type, the raw data was interpolated using MapInfo GIS to repesent habitat types. This allowed every area surveyed to be assigned a biotope type according to a national classification system.




Is the project / process having a follow up.

If not: when did the progress stop and what the main reason was?

Use of information

The data has been used to:

  • provide a focus for conservation objectives for the sites
  • provide the scientific evidence for the SAC management scheme
  • allow the site to be monitored - quality, extent, distribution of habitats
  • provide baseline data on national SACs (report to EU every 6yrs)
  • inform SNH casework
  • provide input to interpretation material


What sort of lessons can be learnt from this example? Characterise briefly

In general, the role of GIS in this example has been involved with:

  • data storage
  • data analysis
  • information presentation
  • map query
  • the facilitation of decision making and discussion
  • integration into SNH site management methodology

The main lesson this example demonstrates is the potential benefit that GIS can provide to a project which has a decision-making role. In particular, GIS has provided the following benefits:

  • Fast interpolation of data
  • Effective and efficient data storage and manipulation
  • High quality data presentation
  • Ongoing support for management activity



Who can provide further information with contacts?

Scottish Natural Heritage
2/5 Anderson Place