The Cairngorms National Park is home to a quarter of Britain's threatened species including wildcats, Scottish crossbills and the Northern February red stonefly.
The proposed development sites at An Camas Mor, Kingussie, Carrbridge and Nethy Bridge are home to many spectacular species including rare and endangered mammals, birds, plants and invertebrates.
Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia)
Scottish Wildcat © BSCG
Plans for new housing in the Cairngorms National Park could further threaten the Scottish wildcat population. The population is currently restricted to the Scottish highlands and the wildcat is sensitive to loss of habitats and hybridisation with and spread of disease from feral domestic cats.
Wildcats look similar to a domestic cat, with black and brown markings and a distinct thick tail with black ringed bands and a blunt black tip. The Scottish wildcat was once found across the UK but is now restricted to the Scottish highlands. It is generally nocturnal and solitary and rabbits can be a very important part of their diet.
The Scottish wildcat is critically endangered. It is listed as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species, meaning action needs to be taken to conserve this species. It is also listed as a species of principal concern on the Scottish Biodiversity List.
Violet oil beetle (Meloe violaceus)
Violet Oil Beetle © BSCG
Developing on the site at An Camas Mor could destroy the Violet oil beetle population there. National surveys indicate a reduced distribution of the Violet oil beetle with Scotland being highlighted as a stronghold for the species. Violet oil beetles are threatened by habitat loss and changes in land use practices.
The Violet oil beetle is a large black beetle (over 2.5cm length) with a purple sheen. It is found on wildflower-rich grassland habitats feeding on flowers and soft grasses. The Violet oil beetle has an interesting life cycle associated with solitary bees. The louse-like young visit flowers where they board a visiting solitary bee. Once in the solitary bee nest the young feed before emerging as an adult beetle.
The Violet oil beetle is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species meaning that work needs to be done to conserve them and their habitats.
Northern damselfly (Coenagrion hastulatum)
Northern Damselfly © BSCG
The Northern damselfly is restricted to a few small lochans (small inland lochs)in Scotland. With such a small range the development at An Camas Mor would be a significant loss for this species.
The Northern damselfly male is blue and black banded and the female is green if viewed from the side or black if viewed from above. In the UK it is restricted to sedge-fringed lochans in the Scottish highlands. As with all damselflies the life cycle involves a stage as an aquatic nymph before metamorphosis into a winged adult.
The Northern damselfly is one of the UK's rarest damselflies and is listed on the Red Data Book.
Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
Cuckoo © Sergey Eliseev
The developments in the Cairngorms National Park would stop Cuckoos using this area. The Cuckoo is a UK red list species meaning it is of high conservation concern and globally it is declining.
The Cuckoo is a dove sized grey coloured bird with barred white under parts, a long tail and pointed wings. The cuckoo feeds on insects, especially caterpillars. It has an interesting life cycle - being a brood parasite on smaller birds such as the meadow pipit.
Freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera)
Freshwater Pearl Mussel © Joel Berglund
The River Spey has an outstanding population of Freshwater pearl mussels. These species are sensitive to water quality and the new housing developments in the Cairngorms National Park could contribute to increased levels of pollution, domestic run-off and silt into the river water.
The Freshwater pearl mussel is a bivalve mollusc with two shells surrounding a soft body. The shells are a yellow-brown colour getting darker with age. The mussel can live for over 100 years, living as an adult in sandy or gravel river beds. The mussel has an interesting life cycle where the young attach themselves to the gills of Salmon or Brown trout before maturing and embedding into the river bed.
The freshwater pearl mussel is considered endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)red list alongside the Giant Panda. It is in global decline and faces threats from poaching, pollution and overfishing. Around half of the world's population of breeding mussels can be found in Scotland.
Northern February red stonefly (Brachyptera putata)
Northern February Red Stonefly © Mike Hammett
The Northern February red stonefly is endemic to Scotland, found nowhere else in the world. It is found in the River Spey and could be threatened by the developments in the Cairngorms National Park due to its sensitivity to water quality.
The Northern February red stonefly is a grey coloured insect which needs fast-flowing, well oxygenated water to develop in. The majority of its life is spent as an aquatic nymph feeding on algae in the river. The stonefly is sensitive to water quality especially high nutrient levels that result in reduced oxygen content in the water.
The Northern February red stonefly is on the UK BAP list meaning action needs to be taken to conserve this species. It is also listed on the Scottish biodiversity list.
Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Lapwing © BSCG
Lapwing are found on some of the farmland habitats at Kingussie. This red listed species has seen its Scottish breeding population decline by over 25% in the last 25 years.
The lapwing is a black and white wading bird which breeds on farmland feeding in areas rich in soil invertebrates.
The Lapwing has been on the UK red list since 2008.
Pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)
Common Pipistrelle © Hugh Clark, Bat Conservation Trust
Although common and widespread the two species of Pipistrelle bat have suffered continuing population declines. The site at Kingussie is used by bats for foraging. A housing development on the Kingussie site in the Cairngorms National Park would mean some feeding grounds would be lost for these bats.
The Pipistrelle bat is small and brown with a dark brown face. Its flight is fast and jerky, catching and feeding on insects in the air. It is known to frequent a variety of habitats including woodland, woodland edge and pasture.
All UK bat species are listed on The Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats (EUROBATS)
Narrow-headed ant (Formica exsecta)
Narrow-Headed Ant © BSCG
The Narrow-headed ant population at Carrbridge in the Cairngorms National Park is of national significance. The development at the Carrbridge site would destroy the Narrow-headed habitat in an area of the UK where the main strongholds are found.
The Narrow-headed ant is a rare ant largely restricted in the UK to Strathspey in the Scottish highlands and one site in Devon. The ant is a sign of healthy woodland, and provides services such as dispersing seeds, preying on pest aphids and caterpillars The Narrow-headed ant builds an intricate nest with a network of chambers to regulate the temperature within the nest.
The Narrow-headed ant is listed as Endangered on the UK Red Data Book and is a UK BAP species meaning action must be taken to conserve the species. It is also noted on the Scottish biodiversity list.
Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
Red Squirrel © BSCG
Scottish pinewoods are a vital stronghold for the Red squirrel in Britain and the developments sites in the Cairngorms National Park will result in the loss of woodland habitat with high numbers of red squirrel.
The Red squirrel has red fur, a bushy tail and ear tufts in winter. Once widespread across Britain the range has drastically reduced. The Red squirrel is found in woodland where they feed primarily on pine seeds. They build tree nests called dreys which they usually line with moss. The Red squirrel is threatened by loss of habitat and disease carried by the non-native Grey squirrel.
The Red squirrel is one of our most endangered mammals listed on the UK BAP and globally the population is decreasing.
Scottish crossbill (Loxia scotica)
Crossbill © Nigel Blake
The Scottish crossbill is endemic to Scotland - found no where else in the world. The development on the sites in the Cairngorms National Park would destroy some of the Caledonian pinewood that the Scottish crossbills and other crossbills use.
The Scottish crossbill is a chunky finch with a powerful crossed bill that enables it to extract seeds from tough pine cones. It lives on Scots pine trees, feeding on the pine seeds. It can be found in new and old Caledonian pinewood in Scotland.
The Scottish crossbill is on the UK amber list being a species of European concern.
Otter (Lutra lutra)
Otter © Steven Falk
The Otter is vulnerable to habitat loss, disturbance and road traffic accidents. The development on the sites in the Cairngorms National Park could damage the otter population using the River Spey and its tributaries.
The Otter is a semi-aquatic mammal. They are fast, agile swimmers preying mainly on fish although frogs can be important in their diet in late winter and spring. They use rivers, streams and lochans. They are usually nocturnal, solitary animals only coming together to mate. Otters are sensitive to disturbance and habitat loss both on land and in water. Traffic can be a significant cause of mortality for otters as they are most active at night.
The Otter is listed as near threatened on the IUCN red list.
Juniper (Juniperus communis)
Waxwing Feeding on Juniper © BSCG
The Juniper shrubs found in the Cairngorms National Park are some of the best examples of large, mature Juniper in the UK. Development on the sites in the Cairngorms National Park would result in loss of Juniper.
Juniper is an evergreen shrub with blue-green needles and purple berries. It is an important understory shrub of Caledonian pinewoods. Although widespread across Europe and most of Scotland it's geographic range and colony size is declining in Britain.
Juniper is a UK BAP species meaning it is of conservation concern.
A mason bee (Osmia uncinata)
Mason Bee (Osmia uncinata) © BSCG
Osmia uncinata is a small mason bee has its UK stronghold in the Caledonian pinewoods of Strathspey. The populations are highly localised. The developments in the Cairngorms National Park would threaten the Caledonian pine forest and forest edge habitat, needed by this species.
This bee is known to use the abandoned tunnels of longhorn beetles and visit flowers of bird's-foot trefoil, making open edges of Caledonian pine forest rich in dead wood a favoured habitat. Osmia uncinata is threatened by the loss of native pine wood and intensive wood plantations.
Osmia uncinata is listed as vulnerable on the Red Data Book and is a Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species.
Blaeberry bumblebee (Bombus monticola)
Blaeberry bumblebee © BSCG
The Blaeberry bumblebee has suffered a decline in distribution and range. The developments in the Cairngorms National Park would destroy foraging habitat.
The Blaeberry bumblebee has red hair on the abdomen and bright yellow bands on the thorax. It feeds on the pollen and nectar from Blaeberry, clover, bird's foot trefoil and other wildflowers. The Blaeberry bumblebee selects disused underground mammal nests to raise a small colony.
Violet coral (Clavaria zollingeri)
Violet Coral © Ern Emmett
The Violet coral is rare in the UK and the population at Carrbridge is threatened by the development in the Cairngorms National Park.
The Violet coral is a delicate purple fungus with antler-like branches. The fungus is a saprobic species, meaning it gets its nutrients from breaking down organic matter. It is an indicator of nutrient poor grassland, a habitat that is under threat from land use changes and development pressures. It is rare in Europe.
Violet coral is on the UK red list.