The Uists are one of the last places in the UK to retain low-input, traditional farming systems. They support the typical suite of farmland bird species in high densities, in addition to rarities such as corncrake, corn bunting and the great yellow bumblebee. Fundamental to ensuring their survival is accessing support for and highlighting the importance of crofting, which provides the habitats on which they depend.
In partnership, the RSPB has been working with crofters on the Uists for more than two decades. In the 1990s, the work focused on modifying changes to agricultural practices, which had led to dramatic declines in the corncrake population. The work was extremely successful and current projects have built on it to encompass all species and habitats of importance. However, many species still face threats and this project aims to ensure that solutions are found and delivered on a large enough scale to support strong wildlife populations.
Land management and advisory initiatives are a key mechanism for delivery, requiring specialist staff and partnership work.