A Functional Wetland Typology for Scotland
July 2009


Project funders/partners: SNIFFER, SEPA, SNH and Environment Agency

Background to research
Implementing the Water Framework Directive (WFD) in Scotland has involved new regulatory duties for SEPA, in particular through the introduction of the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (CAR). Under CAR, activities including abstractions, impoundments, engineering activities, point discharges and diffuse pollution now require licences. In order to decide whether a licence for a regulated activity should be awarded, SEPA staff must be able to assess whether the proposed activity is likely to affect any nearby waterbodies, including wetlands. Although understanding wetland hydroecology has traditionally been a specialist subject, there is an increasing need for non-specialists within SEPA to be able to identify wetlands, their basic hydrological and ecological characteristics,and their sensitivity to controlled activities, to enable licensing decisions to be made. This “Wetland Typology” has been devised to assist SEPA in that process. In addition to its use in regulation, it is also intended to use the typology to classify wetlands across the whole of Scotland in a wetland inventory.

Objectives of research
The aims of WFD95 included:
Key findings and recommendations
The wetland typology for Scotland was developed based on habitats, and the range of wetland types was established primarily by consideration of Phase 1 habitats (JNCC, 2007) and Habitats Directive Annex 1 habitats found in Scotland. Seventeen wetland types (including sub-types) were identified in total, including a variety of coastal, lowland, upland and montane wetlands, as summarised in Table E1. The types are designed to be uniquely identifiable so that choosing between types is as simple as possible. For each wetland type, field indicators have been selected including landscape setting, hydrological features, soil type and vegetation types, that can help to identify the habitat.
Guidance on identifying landscape setting and other wetland features is provided, in addition to identifying habitats, to allow a basic understanding of the function of the wetland.

Field guidance and training materials have been produced to assist non-specialists in carrying out field visits and identifying wetland types. The material includes:
Table E1 Summary of Wetland Types
Wetland type Wetland sub-type
1 Wet woodland 1a Bog woodland
1b Other wet woodland
2 Wet Grassland 2a Marshy grassland
 2b Montane grassland
3 Seepage/ flush/ spring 3a Montane flushes
3b Tufa-forming spring
3c Other spring
3d Seepage/ flush
4 Fen 4 Fen
5 Swamp
5 Swamp
6 Reedbed
6 Reedbed
7 Wet heath 7 Wet heath
8 Bog 8a Peat bog
8b Quaking bog
9 Saltmarsh 9 Saltmarsh
10 Dune slacks 10 Dune slacks
11 Machair
11 Machair
Recommendations from the project include:
Key words: WFD, CAR, wetland, habitat, typology, field guidance

Copies of this report are available from the Foundation, in electronic format on CDRom at 20.00 + VAT or hard copy at 25.00, less 20% to FWR members.
N.B. The report is available for download from the SNIFFER Website