The Arran Moors Special Protection Area (pink on the map) and the Sites of Special Scientific Interest (pink with vertical lines on the map) cover an extensive area of Arran.
It is of outstanding interest for its variety of upland habitats and breeding birds. There are large tracts of blanket bog, wet and dry heath and upland grassland. With small areas of broad-leaved woodland and several small lochs, this diversity of habitats supports a rich variety of moorland breeding birds.
The area is internationally important for its breeding Hen Harriers. Around five percent of the UK breeding population of Hen Harriers are found in Arran. In addition the area is nationally important for Red-throated Divers, Golden Eagle, Peregrine and Short-eared Owl.
The knowledge of the Hen Harrier population on the island is due to the many years of effort put in by the resident member of the South Strathclyde Raptor Study Group, John Rhead. The SPA status was eventually granted in 2003.
As reported in the 2009 Arran Bird Report, in 2009 the Arran Hen Harrier project entered a new phase with the wing tagging of young Hen Harriers and the satellite tracking of two of these birds. For the first time this enabled information to be gathered on the movements of Arran Hen Harriers. This was supported by Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland.
Unfortunately both birds died in their first winter on Arran.