Around one sixth of Dumfries and Galloway is upland. The rolling hills of heather found in upland habitats forms part of Scotland’s identity. The terrain of these habitats is ideal for birds of prey, such as Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus and Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, and is strongly influenced by traditional pursuits, including grouse shooting and hill farming.
There are approximately 30 000 hectares of montane habitat in Dumfries and Galloway, above an altitude of 600 metres. The montane communities in Dumfries and Galloway are characteristic, in that both northern and southern species are at their occurrence limits. It is made up of many types of community, including dwarf-shrub heaths, moss heaths and grassland. In addition, late lying snow and spring flushes can provide a range of microhabitats that support specialised plants, such as arctic-alpine willows.
The upland heathland in Dumfries and Galloway cover around 10 000 hectares, with most found in the Southern Uplands, examples of those outside this area are at Criffel and Glenquichen Moor. Part of this habitat type is dwarf-shrub heaths, which have international conservation significance. Upland heathland is prime habitat for a number of bird species, including Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix, Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, and wide-ranging species such as Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus and Merlin Falco columbarius. Additionally, some areas are very rich in bryophyte and lichen communities.
There are three Local Biodiversity Action Plan priority upland habitats in Dumfries and Galloway, these are:
- Inland Rock Outcrops
- Montane Moss-heaths
- Upland Heaths