This volcanic archipelago, with its spectacular landscapes, is situated off the coast of the Hebrides and comprises the islands of Hirta, Dun, Soay and Boreray. It has some of the highest cliffs in Europe, which have large colonies of rare and endangered species of birds, especially puffins and gannets. The archipelago, uninhabited since 1930, bears the evidence of more than 2,000 years of human occupation in the extreme conditions prevalent in the Hebrides. Human vestiges include built structures and field systems, the cleits and the traditional Highland stone houses. They feature the vulnerable remains of a subsistence economy based on the products of birds, agriculture and sheep farming. © UNESCO
2020 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
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Description of values
Significant marine and maritime plant communities
Significant populations and colonies of seabirds
Important seabird station
Outstanding array of species in diverse terrestrial communities
Complex ecological dynamic in the marine zones
Diverse seabird communities
Outstanding natural features and island scenery
The National Trust for Scotland are working to develop a new biosecurity plan as part of a national project s for all SPAs (IUCN Consultation, 2020).
However, the recent investment to rebuild the military base indicates a commitment to retain the facility for the near to medium term and the matter is addressed fully in the NTS Management Plan (IUCN Consultation, 2020).
A mapping survey of marine habitats and species was carried out by SNH in 1997 and 2000 (Posford Duvivier Environment 2000). A monitoring survey of the sea cave feature was conducted in 2015 (Harries et. al, 2018), and marine monitoring surveys for sea caves are carried out every 12 years and a review of potentially damaging activities every 6 years (IUCN Consultation, 2020). Whilst marine monitoring is limited by a combination of weather conditions and the high cost of marine monitoring surveys, there is also a relatively low probability of human-induced impacts due to St Kilda's remote location (IUCN Consultation, 2020).
|№||Organization||Brief description of Active Projects||Website|
|1||Nature Conservancy, various universities since 1957, esp Cambridge (T.Clutton-Brock) and Edinburgh (J Pemberton)||Detailed study of feral Soay Sheep; numbers, breeding strategy, parasites, genetics etc.||
|2||M Crawley (Imperial College)||Detailed study of vegetation, esp. sheep grazing impacts||
|3||National Trust for Scotland (Seabird wardens)||Seabird populations and productivity, including guillemot feeding studies, puffin productivity and Leach’s petrel productivity using artificial nest boxes||
|4||Universities of Edinburgh, Aberystwyth, Sheffield and Liverpool, Humbolt University Berlin, the Moredun Research Institute and the James Hutton Institute||Role of gut ecosystems in the ecology and evolution of wild animals.||
Booth A (1996) A National Vegetation Classification Survey of Hirta and Dun. Commissioned Report to Scottish Natural Heritage, Edinburgh< Perth and Inverness.
Clutton-Brock T C and Pemberton J (2004) Soay sheep: dynamics and selection in an island population. Cambridge University Press (Annual Research Reports also produced, distributed by J Pemberton, University of Edinburgh)
Crawley M (1993) The Flora of St Kilda. Unpublished. Imperial College, Silwood Park.
Harries, D.B., Moore, C.G., Porter, J.S., Sanderson, W.G., Ware, F.J. & Kamphausen, L. (2018). The establishment of site condition monitoring of the sea caves of the St Kilda and North Rona Special Areas of Conservation with supplementary data from Loch Eriboll. Scottish Natural Heritage Research Report No. 1044.
Harris M P & Wanless S (2011) The Puffin. T & AD Poyser, London
Harris M P Murray S & Wanless S (1998) Long-term changes in breeding performance of puffins on St Kilda. Bird Study v 45
Hayward, A., Pilkington, J.G., Wilson, K., McNeilly T. and Watt, K. (2019). Reproductive effort influences intra-seasonal variation in parasite-specific antibody responses in wild Soay sheep. Functional Ecology, 33, pp.1307-13. doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13330
IUCN Consultation. (2017). IUCN Confidential Consultation- St Kilda, UK.
IUCN Consultation. (2020). IUCN Confidential Consultation- St Kilda, UK.
JNCC. (2020). West of Scotland MPA. [online] Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough. Available at: https://jncc.gov.uk/our-work/west-of-scotland-mpa/ (Accessed 20 November 2020).
Jewell P A, Milner C and Boyd, J M (1974) Island Survivors: the ecology of the Soay Sheep of St Kilda. Athlone Press, London (out of print)
Kentie, R, Clegg, S.M., Tuljapurkar, S., Gaillard, J-M. and Coulson, T. (2020). Life‐history strategy varies with the strength of competition in a food‐limited ungulate population. Ecology Letters. doi.org/10.1111/ele.13470
Love J A (2009) A Natural History of St Kilda Birlinn, Edinburgh (Comprehensive reference list)
Mitchell P I, Newton S F, Ratcliffe N and Dunn T El (2004) Seabird Populations of Britain and Ireland. Christopher Helm, London.
Murray S & Wanless S (1997) The status of the gannet in Scotland in 1994-95. Scottish Birds v19
Murray S (2002) Birds of St Kilda. Scottish Birds Supplement, Scottish Ornithologists Club, Aberlady
Murray S (2014) St Kilda cetacean records 2001-2010. Unpublished report to NTS, Inverness
Murray S Wanless S & Harris M P (2013) Timing of breeding and estimated fledging dates of Gannets at St Kilda in 2012. Scottish Birds v33
Murray S, Wanless S & Harris M P (2014) NW Scotland Gannet Surveys in 2013. Scottish Birds v34 (includes latest St Kilda figures)
NCC/RSPB Wardens’ Reports. Unpublished, Scottish Natural Heritage archives, Edinburgh.
National Trust for Scotland Western Isles Manager (WMI) Reports, Balnain House, Inverness.
National Trust for Scotland. (2018). A million seabirds, but for how long? [online] Available at: https://www.nts.org.uk/stories/a-million-seabirds-but-for-h… (Accessed 15 April 2020).
Postford Duvivier Environment (2000) Broad Scale Survey and Mapping of the Seabed and Shore Habitats and Biota: St Kilda SAC. Scottish Natural HeritageCommissioned Report F97PA01.
Regan, C.E., Pemberton, J.M., Pilkington, J.G., Smiseth, P.T., Wilson, A.J. (2020). Linking genetic merit to sparse behavioral data: behaviour and genetic effects on lamb growth in Soay sheep. Behavioral Ecology 31:114-122. doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arz166
St Kilda World Heritage Site Management Plan 2012-17. National Trust for Scotland, Edinburgh (available at nts.org.uk)
State Party of the United Kingdom. (2002). Report of the State Party to the World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of St Kilda (United Kingdom). [online] State Party of the UK. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/387/documents/ [Accessed 17 April 2020].
Wanless S Murray S & Harris MP (2005) The northern gannet in Britain and Ireland in 2003-04. British Birds v 98
Weilgart L S (2007) A Brief Review of Known Effects of Noise on Marine Mammals. Comparative Psychology v 20
World Heritage Committee (2013). Decision: 37 COM 8E St Kilda Adoption of Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (United Kingdom). In: Decisions Adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th Session. [online] Paris, France: UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/387/documents/ [Accessed 17 April 2020].