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Clyde Grasslands

Restoring a historic landscape

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Why Grasslands?

Species rich grasslands are increasingly recognised as habitats that bring a huge variety of benefits for nature, climate and people. They support unique communities of plants, birds and invertebrates, not least pollinators, upon which around 84% of all crops in the UK depend. Less well known, grasslands gather and store an estimated 30% of the earth’s carbon, and so represent a critical nature-based response to both the climate and nature emergencies.

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Restoring our grasslands

Across the UK 97% of species rich grasslands have been lost since the 1940s. Only scattered patches now remain, making it difficult for species to move through the landscape in search of food, breeding opportunities, and to escape further habitat loss. Clyde Grasslands seeks to reverse this loss across the region. Recent work has identified “opportunity areas” that we will target for grassland creation, restoration and management. These are spread across urban and rural locations, uplands and lowlands and public and private land meaning collaboration with a wide range of strategic and delivery partners will be essential for delivery.

What is Clyde Grasslands?

In 2019 the GCV Green Network launched its Blueprint which set out a framework for delivery of the Green Network across Glasgow City Region. The Blueprint was based on two key components: an Access Network for people and a Habitat Network for wildlife. The Habitat Network is based on four habitat types, woodland, wetland, peatland, and grassland. Our Clyde Grasslands initiative was developed to deliver on the latter.

Working with Butterfly Conservation, Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Plantlife Scotland we secured funding from Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, managed by NatureScot, to develop “opportunity mapping” for species rich grassland. This work identified over 400 locations across the region where the creation, restoration or management of grassland would help reverse habitat loss and create a permeable landscape for grassland species. We are now working with partners across a range of sectors and to make the ambition a reality.

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What are the benefits?

Species rich grasslands support a large number of threatened plant, fungi, invertebrate and bird species. A recent study also ranked species-rich grasslands as the single top habitat for pollinators. However, as an example, habitat loss has resulted in 70% of UK butterfly populations declining since the 1970s, with warnings that 24 of 58 species may soon disappear altogether. Providing new habitat and greater habitat connectivity by targeting effort in key locations will help reverse the trend.

It will also help species migrate north, from southern Scotland through the Central Belt, as habitats change due to climate change. This is particularly important in our region which is a “pinch point” for migration between the Clyde and Forth Estuaries with much of the landscape dominated by urban areas and agriculture.

Grasslands can play a key role in climate mitigation and adaptation in the region. The science around quantifying the amount of carbon different grassland types can lock up and store is still evolving however, it’s agreed that the amounts are significant and have been underappreciated. Less frequent cutting of grassland in parks and greenspaces also saves on carbon emissions from machinery. Grassland management and creation should therefore play a key role in the region’s drive for NetZero.

Flooding is a major issue for our region and increasingly so as we experience heavier and more frequent rainfall. Natural grasslands create rougher and more porous ground, absorbing rainfall and slowing overland flows, helping to prevent flooding.

Over and above the benefits to people by offsetting climate impacts, research tells us that experiencing nature is good for our mental health and well-being. However, not everyone has that opportunity close to where they live. By creating new vibrant and attractive meadows throughout urban areas we will provide that experience, encouraging people of all ages to visit and value their local greenspaces

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Where is Clyde Grasslands?

Spanning Glasgow City Region from Loch Lomond to the Southern Uplands, Clyde Grasslands covers the eight regional local authorities of East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire.

This area of over 330,000ha contains many diverse land uses as it moves between rural hillsides and Scotland’s largest urban area. Ranging from urban roadside verges and parks to nature friendly farming in larger rural areas, each will require different approaches, partners and funding.

Clyde Grasslands has 3 elements


Targeting restoration in key locations to create a permeable landscape, allowing species to move freely through and between grassland habitats.


Grasslands deserve greater prominence for the important role they can play in contributing to Net Zero targets and in absorbing and slowing rainfall


Partnership-working and pooling resources across public, private and third sectors will be essential given the scale of the challenge we face.

Opportunities for Grassland Nature Networks

While ‘City Region” may bring to mind a mainly urban setting, the reality is a truly diverse landscape encompassing hills and uplands, rolling farmland, urban edge, sections of tidal coast, as well as urban parks and greenspaces. This diversity is reflected in the different types of species rich grasslands we have in the Region however, they are now nowhere near as commonplace as they once were in that landscape.

Clyde Grasslands represents a fantastic opportunity to restore these lost habitats, provide greater connectivity for wildlife, and deliver a range of benefits to the people of Glasgow City Region.

There is a growing understanding of the role grasslands can play in helping meet the challenge of Net Zero by capturing and storing carbon. The ability of grass root networks to store carbon make them every bit as important as forests and other habitats. We want to raise awareness of the role of grasslands in Net Zero targets, and to investigate approaches to quantifying the carbon capture.

Scotland will experience more frequent and heavier rainfall events due to climate change. Combined with an ageing drainage system and sealed surfaces in urban areas, much of our region is susceptible to flooding. Intercepting and slowing water flow is therefore critical in adapting to flooding. Grasslands introduce roughness and porosity to the land, absorbing and holding back water, before releasing it slowly.

“Habitat fragmentation” means that so much habitat has been lost only isolated patches remain. This makes it difficult for species to move through the landscape in search of food, to breed, or to escape further habitat loss through catastrophes such as fire. Agricultural intensification and urban expansion have particularly fragmented grassland habitats.

We will protect and manage remaining habitat, and target the creation of new habitat in locations that reverse fragmentation, restoring habitat connectivity. Recent work, funded through the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, (managed by NatureScot), provides a framework for that targeted action across a range of situations, land uses and ownership.

Restoration of habitat networks works best when it is planned at scale with multiple partners, funders and landowners each then working to put their piece into the jigsaw. This requires partnership and collaborative working and a pooling of expertise, resources and capacity.

As we move from planning to delivery we will work with public, private and third sector organisations, bringing the necessary skills and resources to the Region to meet the scale of ambition.

Can you help us deliver?

Clyde Grasslands can only succeed if a variety of partners, projects and people come together to help deliver grassland restoration. We are already working closely with colleagues from local authorities, the National Health Service, NGOs and charities. However, we want to hear from others who can help.

We would like to speak with you if:

1. You are a landowner or manager and would like a conversation about grassland restoration opportunities on land you own or manage. We can advise who best to speak to and help with mapping of grassland opportunities in your area.

2. You are a botanical amateur or expert? We are always keen to update our data so, if you think you can help, we can provide advice on where surveying is most needed.

Contact Us:

Clyde Grasslands - Species Rich Grassland Opportunity Mapping Report

On behalf of project partners, Plantlife Scotland, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, and Butterfly Conservation, GCV Green Network commissioned analysis to identify regional species rich grassland Networks and Opportunity Areas. We will use these to develop a suite of grassland delivery projects. You can read the full report below, and we can share the data with potential delivery partners.

Requests for grassland maps for your area or GIS data, please contact us at:

This project was supported by the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, managed by NatureScot.

View our other delivery projects

Restoring much of the Regions degraded peatland

Expanding off-road routes for Green Active Travel

Targeting key locations for wetland creation.

Aiming to plant 18 million trees by 2032

Restoring much of the Regions degraded peatland

Expanding off-road routes for Green Active Travel

Targeting key locations for wetland creation.

Aiming to plant 18 million trees by 2032

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