Machair Grassland is a rare coastal habitat of low-lying grassland and shell sand unique to the north-western fringe of Europe. Over 90 per cent of the world’s machair is in Scotland and Ireland.
This landscape supports an outstanding variety of wildlife, including corncrakes, the highest densities of breeding waders in the UK and a large number of invertebrates.
One of the main aims of this Futurescape is working with crofters. Together, we’ll ensure the traditional, low intensity crofting methods intrinsically linked to machair are encouraged and maintained.
This will involve providing advice on agri-environment schemes and negotiating management agreements with crofters and landowners.
Reserves and other protected areas are a key part of Futurescapes. They provide core areas for nature to thrive and eventually repopulate the surrounding landscapes. The key RSPB reserves within this Futurescape are:
This beautiful Hebridean reserve has sandy beaches, rocky foreshore, marshes and sand dunes. An information centre explains the importance of traditional crofting agriculture for corncrakes and other wildlife. Many wading and farmland birds make their nests on the flower-rich machair and croft-land.
We're working to safeguard and improve special places for nature. Each Futurescape contains a range of initiatives in addition to our reserves. The combination of these creates better conditions for wildlife across the countryside.
Machair Life+ is a four-year project which aims to demonstrate that traditional crofting practices have a sustainable future. By engaging in management agreements with crofters it aims to show these traditional techniques benefit biodiversity. The project is also assisting with crop protection from greylag geese as well as conducting community work.
Corn buntings were once one of the most common small birds of the Scottish islands, but these populations are now reduced to a remnant on the Uists in the Outer Hebrides, where less than 100 territories remain. This population is declining and conservation measures that provide more winter food, particularly ripe cereal grain, are likely to help recovery.
Futurescapes is all about collaboration. There are many organisations and people involved in managing land in the Machair Grassland. Our challenge is working together to find ways of making more space for nature. To achieve this we’re working with:
The LIFE + Futurescapes Information and Communications programme 2011–2015 was generously funded through the EU LIFE Nature fund. LIFE is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed nearly 4,000 projects, contributing approximately €2.8 billion to the protection of the environment.
Saving special places
After the hurricane - Improving small island resilience and self-sufficiency in habitat monitoring and management in the UKOTS
Clearing up: Credit Louise Soames Blog by Lyndon John (RSPB) and Louise Soames The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season dealt devastating blows to the Caribbean region, particularly for the Caribbean UKOTs. The islands of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands.....Posted 20/06/2019 by Heather Mitchell
Victory for Harapan Rainforest
Beautiful Hutan Harapan forest is a precious remnant of the rainforest that once covered much of Sumatra (Photo: RSPB-images/Steve Roland) Hutan Harapan is one of the last remaining areas of dry lowland Sumatran forest and is among the most th...(r...Posted 12/04/2019 by Heather Mitchell
Rila Mountains: The Final Piece in Bulgaria's Protected Area Network for Birds
Daniel Pullan, our International Casework Manager writes: I was thrilled last week when my Bulgarian colleague Irina Mateeva told me that the Bulgarian Government had designated the last part of the Rila Mountains as a Special Protection Area. This a...Posted 04/04/2019 by Heather Mitchell
A net gain for nature
How can built development leave the natural environment in a better shape than it was before? This is the question at the heart of Defra’s recent consultation on ‘biodiversity net gain’. We know from the State of Nature 2016 report ...(read more)Posted 01/03/2019 by Simon Marsh