Mull's significant ecosystems

Ben-More-small-15.jpgBen More, Isle of Mull - where several SSSIs occur. Photo: John Sawyer.

There are various methods used in the UK to evaluate the significance of habitats and ecosystems. Here we describe some of them that affect Mull.

Site of Special Scientific Interest

A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is a conservation designation denoting a protected area in the United Kingdom. An SSSI may be made on any area of land which is considered to be of special interest by virtue of its fauna, flora, geological or physiographical / geomorphological features. The decision to notify an SSSI is made by Scottish Natural Heritage in Scotland under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004. The following is a list of Sites of Special Scientific Interest on or near Mull:

  • Allt Molach
  • Ardalanish Bay
  • Ardmeanach
  • Ardtun Leaf Beds
  • Ardura - Auchnacraig
  • Ben More - Scarisdale
  • Calgary Dunes
  • Coladoir Bog
  • Cruach Choireadail
  • Gribun Shore and Crags
  • Lagganulva Wood
  • Loch Ba Woodland
  • Loch Sguabain
  • S'Airde Beinn
  • Sound of Mull Cliffs
  • South Mull Coast
  • Staffa
  • Treshnish Isles
Important Plant Areas

IPA-Mull-Plantlife-2015.jpgMap showing the location of the two IPAs on Mull. The left one is Ardmeanach. 

Important Plant Areas (or IPAs) are exactly that: areas of landscape that have been identified as being of the highest botanical importance. In 2007, Plantlife (Britain's leading plant conservation advocate) announced the establishment of 150 IPAs across the UK, areas nominated for their internationally important wild plant populations. There are two IPAs on the Isle of Mull:


It features a rich diversity of habitat and supports over 400 species of flowering plants and ferns, making it one of the richest areas in the Hebrides. Several of these are nationally scarce including hairy stonecrop, alpine cinquefoil and mountain avens. Red fescue and sea thrift dominated grasslands occur alongside maritime heath, and roseroot. The upper cliff ledges and exposed plateau support arctic alpine plant communities including species Iceland purslane. Here is one of its two British localities, growing abundantly on gravel spreads.   

Mull Oakwoods

Alder and ash occur along the stream courses and, in an area of more fertile soil, by the loch below Sròn nam Boc. Here the ground vegetation consists of false brome, with bluebell, primrose, wood sorrel, wood anemone, yellow pimpernel, and in wetter situations tufted hairgrass, marsh hawksbeard and meadowsweet. Holly and rowan form the understorey throughout the woods while birch dominates the upper slopes. The field layer is dominated by blaeberry and purple moor grass
National Scenic Areas

NSA-Isle-of-Mull-June-2015.jpgThere are 40 National Scenic Areas (NSAs) in Scotland chosen to represent the countries finest landscapes. They include spectacular mountain areas such as the Cuillins of Skye, Ben Nevis and Glencoe, and dramatic island landscapes within the Hebrides and the Northern Isles. These NSAs cover 13% of the land area of Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage has published a map showing all these SNAs. The map to the right shows the location of Mull's only, but very large NSA that wraps around Loch na Keal, Loch Tuath and the inner islands (Ulva, Gometra, Staff, the Treshnish Isles and little Colonsay etc). More information about Scotland's NSAs maybe found on the SNH website.

This page last updated on 5 Sep 2015