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Location United Kingdom, Scotland
Central coordinates 5o 11.27' West  58o 22.85' North
IBA criteria A4ii, A4iii, B1ii, B3, C3, C4
Area 366 ha
Altitude 0 - 123m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Site description A sandstone island with precipitous cliffs located a short way off the west coast of Sutherland. The vegetation comprises submaritime grass and heathland, with more species-rich maritime heathland on the clifftops. Herb-rich grassland occurs in more sheltered areas. The island is of major importance for breeding seabirds.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Great Skua Catharacta skua breeding  2000  195 breeding pairs  poor  A4ii, B1ii, B3, C3  Least Concern 
Common Murre Uria aalge breeding  1998  112,676 individuals  good  A4ii, B1ii, C3  Least Concern 
Razorbill Alca torda breeding  2001  16,991 individuals  good  A4ii, B1ii, B3, C3  Near Threatened 
A4iii Species group - seabirds breeding  1998-2001  91,358 breeding pairs  good  A4iii, C4   

IBA Monitoring

2007 low favourable medium
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture marine and freshwater aquaculture - industrial aquaculture likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Catharacta skua Great Skua 115 195 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Uria aalge Common Murre 113433 112676 individuals 100 favourable
Alca torda Razorbill 16418 16991 individuals 100 favourable
Species group - seabirds A4iii 91064 91358 breeding pairs 100 favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Handa National Nature Reserve 363 is identical to site 363  
Handa (SWT) Reserve 318 protected area contained by site 318  
Handa Island Site of Special Scientific Interest 363 is identical to site 363  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Heathland  -
Grassland   -
Wetlands (inland) Standing freshwater  -
Coastline Sea cliffs and rocky shores  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research -

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Handa. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife