The Hebridean machair is the last stronghold of the Corncrake. Twite, Dunlin,
Redshank and Ringed Plover also thrive on the machair grasslands.
Machair is a Gaelic word
that describes an extensive low lying fertile plain.
Almost half of all
Scottish machair occurs in the Outer Hebrides and it is one of the rarest habitat
types in Europe.
"Machair" is so important in ecological and conservational
terms, that it has now become a recognised scientific term.
give the term different definitions: a type of sand dune pasture that is subject
to local cultivation and has developed in wet and windy conditions; or the whole
system, from the beach to where the sand encroaches onto peat further inland.
The machair land is home to rare carpet flowers, such as
Irish Lady's Tresses, Orchids, and Yellow Rattle.
The Hebridean machair
is also the last stronghold of the Corncrake. Twite, Dunlin, Redshank and Ringed
Plover also thrive on the machair land.
There are over 17,000 pairs of waders
breeding on the Uist and Barra machair alone - the most numerous being the Pewit
Machair sand has high shell content, sometimes 80 or 90%, and
is found only in the north west of Britain and Ireland.
In the Hebrides,
it is found mainly down the west coast and is most prominent in the Uists, Barra
and South Harris.
Marram grass solidifies these mobile sands and encourages
soil growth further back in the dune system.
However, the threat of erosion
is greater than ever with rising sea levels, increased levels of Atlantic storms
and recreational beach use.