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Living World From the Archives - The Machair Of The Western Isles

Unique to the northwestern Atlantic seaboard of Britain, the Machair is truly remarkable

The machair is a unique coastal grassland, rich in wildflowers, that form one of the rarest habitats in Europe, and for this Living World wildlife presenter Lindsay Chapman relives the magic of this man made but fragile landscape which Brett Westwood experienced on this visit to South Harris in 2004.

Brett meets up with Martin Scott from the RSPB who guides him across this sea washed habitat to discuss the special nature of botanically rich grasslands. This grassland is a result of many centuries of grazing by farm animals through the crofting system, the programme unearth how that grazing benefits not only the wild flowers, but the birdlife too. Along the way Brett discovers wonderful flora such as meadowsweet, silverweed and knapweed. But on a cold wet day their quest to find the great yellow bumblebee does prove problematic. This habitat is unique to western and northern Scotland and today faces considerable threats, from changes in the traditional crofting system to the introduction of hedgehogs and mink which can affect ground nesting birds making their home in the Machair, and controversial projects to remove them.

To bring this story up to date since this programme was first broadcast, Lindsey Chapman offers some recent updates into the magical world of the Machair.

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23 minutes