WEST Dunbartonshire has thousands more species of plants and animals than other parts of the UK, according to a new map.

The map details perhaps predictable gaps between the most biodiverse areas, such as Highland, Gwynedd and Shropshire, and the least in the City of London, Islington and Tower Hamlets.

West Dunbartonshire has 3,330 species, tied at 222nd in the UK. Highland has the most species with 16,273 and the City of London has just 159 species, coming last in a list of 380 areas.

But on plants, making up more than a third of the total species locally, the area comes in at 69th on the list.

And Councillor Iain McLaren, who regularly champions biodiversity in the area, said the list from Holidaycottages.co.uk shows West Dunbartonshire is rich for bio-surveyors and nature fans.

He said: “I am very encouraged by the findings in this study. Given West Dunbartonshire’s industrial past, it is great to see us ranked so highly for plant biodiversity; plants are the foundation of the food web.

Read more: Golden Friendships: Clydebank group go from strength to strength throughout 2019

“This means that our lower ranking for fungi, mammals and birds is not an accurate reflection of our biodiversity. It simply indicates that more recording is needed to give a fuller overview of our bio-communities.”

Cllr McLaren said studies such as this rely on volunteers and experts to submit data and actively look out for species. He said much of the area’s marine habitat is waiting to be catalogued, something the Clyde Marine Planning Partnership is looking to tackle.

He said: “Biodiversity is measured partly by the presence of certain key ‘biodiversity indicator’ species.

“The existence of thriving nationally and internationally important breeding grounds here for species such as the curlew and redshank, which are declining elsewhere in the UK, but not in Scotland, is a further indicator that we do have flourishing habitats.

“West Dunbartonshire has many unique habitats that we should enjoy and protect.”