Conserving Scottish machair LIFE+ project

The success of the project will help to secure the immensely important conservation value of the unique machair habitat, 70 per cent of which is covered by the project.

 RSPB Nene Washes Nature Reserve, Corncrake Crex crex, Cambridgeshire


Machair habitat is extremely rare and changes in local agricultural practices have occurred which are now threatening the condition of the habitat and the conservation status of key flora and fauna populations.

Species affected (not UK birds)

Great yellow bumblebee


  • Expand the area of late-harvested crops on arable machairs
  • Effect a reduction in the area of under-sown arable crop
  • Undertake best practice arable crop production including cultivation techniques and demonstrate these to the crofting community
  • Establish best practice in-bye management as part of a whole crofting unit machair biodiversity package
  • Secure the supply of local arable seed



  • In 2011 - 33 Management Agreements made with crofters which included seaweed spreading, shallow ploughing and reaper binding
  • Introduction of seaweed onto land which in some cases had not received organic fertiliser for more than 30 years
  • The reintroduction of the binder and stacks to areas which had not been harvested this way for 10 years
  • The discovery of the rare Coleoptera beetle
  • The management of a successful crop protection scheme
  • The instigation of the Machair Art Project at Liniclate School
  • For more detailed information, see the Machair Life website


Planned Work

In 2012 land Management Agreements with crofters has increased to 60, which will include land management works such as the application of seaweed as organic fertiliser. The project has also contracted the Scottish Agricultural Collage to carry out analysis on crop growth related to organic and inorganic fertiliser application. 
A project film is to be made and the project will also be visiting the Burren LIFE+ Project in Ireland to exchange best practice. 


Visit Machair Life for more information and results


Machair Life is supported by the European Union LIFE+ scheme, and managed by The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES) and the Scottish Crofting Federation (SFC).


Coast on a stormy day

Rebecca Cotton

Conserving Scottish Machair LIFE+ Project Manager, RSPB
Tagged with: Country: Scotland Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Grassland Habitat: Marine and intertidal Habitat: Wetland Project status: Project types: Advocacy Project types: Education Project types: Site protection Project types: Species protection