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Location United Kingdom, Scotland
Central coordinates 3o 19.26' West  58o 51.07' North
IBA criteria A4ii, A4iii, B1ii, B2, B3, C3, C4, C6
Area 11,476 ha
Altitude 0 - 479m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Site description The IBA covers a large part of the high island of Hoy, with Old Red Sandstone cliffs on the west coast reaching 338 m. These include the famous 137 m high rock stack, the Old Man of Hoy. The site includes Orkney's only remaining piece of relict deciduous woodland, and lichen and bryophyte-rich heaths. The site is important for breeding seabirds, raptors and waders.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata breeding  1994  58 breeding pairs  good  B2, C6  Least Concern 
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus breeding  2000  469 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
Great Skua Catharacta skua breeding  2000  1,973 breeding pairs  poor  A4ii, B1ii, B3, C3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - seabirds breeding  1999-2000  49,066 breeding pairs  good  A4iii, C4   

IBA Monitoring

2007 very high near favourable low
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Energy production and mining renewable energy likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low

Larus marinus Great Black-backed Gull 645 469 breeding pairs 73 near favourable
Catharacta skua Great Skua 2120 1973 breeding pairs 94 favourable
Species group - seabirds A4iii 56020 49066 breeding pairs 88 near favourable

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Not assessed  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Hoy RSPB Reserve 3,910 protected area contained by site 3,910  
Hoy Site of Special Scientific Interest 9,500 protected area contained by site 9,500  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Mixed woodland  -
Shrubland Heathland; Scrub  -
Grassland Alpine, subalpine and boreal grassland  -
Wetlands (inland) Rivers and streams; Standing freshwater  -
Coastline Rock stacks and islets; Sea cliffs and rocky shores  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 65%
nature conservation and research 35%

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

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