Shetland is one of the last wilderness areas of the UK. So far only about 10% of the total area is protected by 85 SSSI's (Special Site for Scientific Interest). These include added protection as: 1 National Nature reserve, 4 RSPB reserves, 2 SNH reserves leaving the rest as single SSSI areas.
Everyone knows that the SSSI areas don't carry much protection and that changes have been made to a landscape before anyone gets to know then it is too late. But generally everyone on Shetland has a great affinity to the great outdoors, most have a good knowledge of wildlife and are willing to share it.
Alot of birds are on the edge of their North or South range have only a few breeding pairs. Other such as Great Skua, Artic Skua, Whimbrel have the bulk of the UK breeding birds in Shetland.
Seabird colonies are having a bad time, with many not breeding at all in some years. Certainly numbers are significantly less than on our first visit in 1987. The lack of Sandeels are the main problem possibly caused by global warming making the Sandeels breed later, stay deeper and moving further north, as well as being over fished.
All this seems bad news but we all can help by highlighting these points to others to gain support, we can submit records of birds etc to help build a better picture of what is happening to our wildlife, not just rare birds but the common ones as well.
On a good note it has been interesting to hear the the RSPB are planning to redevelop Sumburgh head into a fantastic visitor attraction , with a £5.4million pound development which should be completed by 2014.