Highland cattle


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HNV Showcases

Machair - unknown jewel


Short-eared-owl Asio flammeusShort-eared-owl (Asio flammeus) – a migratory species that breeds in moorlands and dune systems. Good breeding years are usually associated with “vole years”.
Cattle-grazing on the machair ensures a high habitat heterogeneity that provides the wide range of conditions needed by this suite of breeding species.
Machair development is intrinsically linked to traditional crofting agriculture. In the backgrond, the „blackland“ – where Machair meets moorland. This is where croft buildings, hay meadows and enriched pastures are to be found. These are the areas preferred by Corncrake
Fields are cultivated only every two or three years. During the fallow period, annual plant specis can complete their life cycle. Several arable weed species are restricted in the UK to the Machair.
The fallows are also rich in invertebrate life, making them ideal nesting places for many bird species.
open soilThe large amount of open soil of young fallows facilitates access to prey for birds. In combination with the low-intensity land-use (no artificial fertilisers, pesticides) this leads to some of the highest known breeding densities of waders in Europe (>400 pairs/km²)
Machair plainThe Machair plain can reach a depth of up to 2 km from the sea. The distance determines important habitat characteristics, like nutrient value, salinity or soil moisture.
This has lead to land being apportioned into very thin and immensely long strips for each crofter – once again enhancing habitat heterogenity and therefore biodiversity.

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European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism
Online: http://www.efncp.org/hnv-showcases/scottish-hebrides/machair/fields/
Date: 2024/07/19
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