Skip to main content

28 June, 2023

New multi-species conservation programme arrives on the Solway Coast

New multi-species conservation programme arrives on the Solway Coast: Species on the Edge - Natterjack Toad - credit Andy Hay

A Species on the Edge Partnership News Release

An innovative and ambitious multi-species conservation programme, Species on the Edge, will kick off activity on the Solway coast on 6th July with a ‘nocturnal safari’.

Species on the Edge is a partnership programme of NatureScot and seven conservation charities, all dedicated to improving the fortunes of 37 priority species found along Scotland's coast and islands. The programme celebrated its national launch at Logie Quary, near Tain, earlier this month.

Two Species on the Edge project officers will be based on the Solway Coast in Dumfries and Galloway for the duration of the four-and-a-half-year project, working closely with landowners and local communities to help conserve their local species.

With over £6 million of funding, including £4 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, together the Species on the Edge partner organisations will deliver a programme of conservation activity to tackle the impacts of environmental change on wildlife, to benefit both nature and people.

To celebrate the launch of the programme on the Solway Coast, Species on the Edge will be running a free ‘Nocturnal Safari’ at RSPB Mersehead nature reserve on Thursday 6th July from 8:30pm. The evening will begin with a brief overview of the programme and its planned activity on the Solway Coast, followed by a tour of a range of diverse habitats that support iconic species such as the natterjack toad, tadpole shrimp, farmland waders, and bats. There will also be the opportunity to use to use specialist acoustic monitoring equipment such as bat detectors to listen to the incredible ultrasonic echolocation calls of bats. For information on how to book a place on the event, visit or email

The Species on the Edge partnership consists of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, The Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, NatureScot, Plantlife, and RSPB Scotland. Programme activity is spread across seven coastal and island areas in Scotland: Shetland; North Coast; East Coast; the Inner Hebrides and Argyll; the Outer Hebrides; Orkney; and Solway.

Dumfries and Galloway’s coastline has a diverse array of habitats stretching from the Merse (salt marsh) and sand banks of the Inner Solway, to the shallow open seas and sea cliffs of the Outer Solway, all the way to the Rhinns coastline that leads into the sea loch of Loch Ryan. These habitats support a rich and varied diversity of wildlife. Unfortunately, species are facing threats from habitat loss, climate change, and changes to land management.

The Species on the Edge Solway team will be working with local communities to safeguard a range of species including: natterjack toad, Greenland white-fronted goose, red-billed chough, northern brown argus butterfly, tadpole shrimp, as well as terns, bats, and farmland waders. Project activities on the Solway will include species monitoring, habitat restoration, education and outreach events, volunteering opportunities, and training workshops.

Liam Templeton, Species on the Edge Project Officer from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, is working closely on natterjack toads, Scotland’s rarest amphibian. Liam said: “Natterjack toads were once locally abundant along the eastern Solway. Some local residents have even commented that chorusing males in spring made it feel like they were living in a tropical rainforest. Their numbers have declined dramatically over the last few decades due to changes in land use in combination with natural processes such as drought and sea-level rise. Species on the Edge is a fantastic opportunity to empower members of the community to play an active role in restoring this iconic species to its former glory and once again filling the summer air with its rapturous midnight croaking.”

Species on the Edge Project Officer from RSPB Scotland, Jack Barton, has already been busy meeting with landowners and conducting field surveys along the Solway coast. Jack said: “Agriculture is a major industry in Dumfries and Galloway and the Solway coast has a diverse pastoral landscape. As is the case across Scotland, the farmed landscape is undergoing constant change as farming practices evolve to become more efficient and to meet new economic demands. These changes can pose a threat to species such as curlew and lapwing, which have both declined catastrophically in recent decades. Species on the Edge offers an exciting chance to work with local land managers and communities to support local biodiversity.”

Cathryn Baillie, Species on the Edge Project Officer from Bat Conservation Trust, said: “There is a lot of work still to be done in terms of monitoring and understanding bat populations in Scotland, but the Solway Coast is one of the best places to encounter bats, with eight of our nine species found here, and only a stone’s throw from Scotland’s first bat reserve at Threave Estate!”

Perhaps the most unusual of the Solway species is the tadpole shrimp. The tadpole shrimp is often described as a ‘living fossil’; in evolutionary terms it is believed to be the oldest surviving animal species in the world, having gone almost unchanged for 220 million years. The UK population is restricted to just 2 sites: the New Forest in Hampshire, and Caerlaverock on the Solway coast. Buglife, one of the programme’s partners, is working on a captive breeding and translocation programme to return the tadpole shrimp to former sites, giving the future survival of the species a stronger chance.

For more information about Species on the Edge and how to get involved, visit, join their mailing list, and follow the programme on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact information

NatureScot Media
0131 316 2655

Notes to editors

Plantlife is the international conservation charity working to secure a world rich in wild plants and fungi. Founded in 1989, Plantlife has 15,000 members and supporters. Wild plants and fungi are the foundation of all life on Earth. Plantlife enhances, restores, protects and celebrates our natural heritage through working with landowners, other conservation organisations, public and private bodies and the wider public. Plantlife owns 23 nature reserves covering nearly 4,500 acres across England, Scotland and Wales. We were instrumental in the creation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, the Important Plant Area network and we are a registered COP Observer contributing to international conventions on climate and biodiversity. We are governed by a board of 12 trustees and have around 70 staff, located across the UK. We also support a team of 1500 volunteers who work in the field, at events and in our offices.  Our Patron is The former Prince of Wales. See for more information. 

The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC) is a national wildlife charity focusing on toads, frogs, newts, snakes, lizards and marine turtles. ARC conserves amphibians and reptiles, and the habitats on which they depend, to protect them for future generations. The Trust runs species recovery programmes, monitoring, scientific research, advocacy, outreach and regional projects. ARC owns 24 nature reserves and manages 80, covering 1,900 hectares, and works with a wide range of partner organisations, volunteers and specialists. ARC continues a 50-year history of reptile and amphibian conservation. The charity was established in June 2009 by the Herpetological Conservation Trust (HCT), which was formed in 1989. HCT grew out of the British Herpetological Society’s Conservation Committee, formed in 1969. For more information visit .

The Bat Conservation Trust is the leading non-governmental organisation in the United Kingdom solely devoted to the conservation of bats and the landscapes on which they rely. The breadth and depth of our work is driven by our vision of a world rich in wildlife where bats and people thrive together. Through monitoring and direct conservation action we can secure the future of our bat species in Scotland. 

Buglife - The Invertebrate Conservation Trust is the only charity in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates. Our aim is to halt the extinction of invertebrate species and to achieve sustainable populations of invertebrates across the UK. We are working hard to achieve this through: Undertaking practical conservation projects that will contribute to achieving our aim. Promoting the environmental importance of invertebrates and raising awareness about the challenges to their survival. Assisting in the development of legislation and policy that will ensure the conservation of invertebrates. Developing and disseminating knowledge about how to conserve invertebrates. Encouraging and supporting invertebrate conservation initiatives by other organisations in the UK, Europe and worldwide. Further information is available on Buglife’s website at, follow us on Twitter: @BuglifeScotland and ‘Like us’ on Facebook: Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is a membership charity that was established in 2006 due to serious concerns about the ‘plight of the bumblebee’.  In the last 80 years many bumblebee populations have crashed and two species have become extinct in the UK. The Trust carries out science, conservation, and people engagement projects across the UK   

Butterfly Conservation is the UK charity dedicated to saving butterflies, moths and our environment. Our research provides advice on how to conserve and restore habitats. We run projects to protect more than 100 threatened species and we are involved in conserving hundreds of sites and reserves across the UK. BC has more than 2200 members living in Scotland where we work closely with local communities, landowners, the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage and other conservation partners, to safeguard Scotland’s butterflies, moths and their habitats. 

RSPB Scotland is part of the RSPB, the UK’s largest nature conservation charity. Protecting habitats, saving species and helping to end the nature and climate emergency. Nature is in crisis. Together we can save it. 

NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

’S e NatureScot buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Bidh sinn a’ neartachadh àrainneachd na h-Alba agus a’ brosnachadh dhaoine gu barrachd suim a chur ann an nàdar. Tha e mar phrìomhachas againn gum bi nàdar na h-Alba beairteach agus gun dèilig sinn gu h-èifeachdach le èiginn na gnàth-shìde. Tha an tuilleadh fiosrachaidh aig no air Twitter aig


Species on the Edge - Natterjack Toad - credit Andy Hay: Species on the Edge - Natterjack Toad - credit Andy Hay

Species on the Edge - Natterjack Toad - credit Andy Hay

View | Download

Species on the Edge - Thrift flowering at Burrow Head - credit Jack Barton: Species on the Edge - Thrift flowering at Burrow Head - credit Jack Barton

Species on the Edge - Thrift flowering at Burrow Head - credit Jack Barton

View | Download

Species on the Edge - Tadpole shrimp - credit Roger Key: Species on the Edge - Tadpole shrimp - credit Roger Key

Species on the Edge - Tadpole shrimp - credit Roger Key

View | Download

Species on the Edge - Greenland White-fronted Goose - credit Andy Hay: Species on the Edge - Greenland White-fronted Goose - credit Andy Hay

Species on the Edge - Greenland White-fronted Goose - credit Andy Hay

View | Download

Species on the Edge - Natterjack toad - credit Chris Dresh: Species on the Edge - Natterjack toad - credit Chris Dresh

Species on the Edge - Natterjack toad - credit Chris Dresh

View | Download