Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 12:47 UK

Government to protect tiny snail

Narrow-mouthed whorl snails. (Pic by F. Welter-Schultes)
Narrow-mouthed whorl snails are only found at two sites in Scotland

One of the world's smallest and rarest snails, measuring less than a millimetre in width, has received special protection.

The Scottish Government has designated Garron Point, near Stonehaven, as a special conservation area as it is home to the narrow-mouthed whorl snail.

The species is only found in 10 areas in the UK, including two in Scotland.

The second Scottish refuge on the Solway Firth is likely to be destroyed soon by coastal erosion.

Environment Minister Mike Russell said: "The narrow-mouthed whorl snail is clearly one of our smallest, but also one of our rarest species, and it is classed as endangered in the UK.

"It is therefore important that we do what we can to ensure that it remains part of Scotland's unique biodiversity, even if we know relatively little about it. The designation of Garron Point will ensure that that narrow-mouthed whorl snail is given a chance to thrive in the area."

Seven of the sites across the UK where the snails are found are within special areas of conservation.

There are now a total of 239 designated special areas of conservation in Scotland.

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