Topic “Oh Dear! What can the ‘Machair’ be?
Steve Halliwell using his excellent photographic skills took us on a journey exploring the threatened Machair habitat in Hebridean Islands and the flora of the area.
The Gaelic word ‘machair’ means an extensive, low-lying fertile plain. Machair is a type of grassland associated with calcareous sand (mainly made of shell) which has been blown inland from beaches and mobile dunes. Strictly speaking, ‘machair’ refers to a flat sandy plain with dry and wet short-turf grasslands above impermeable rock. However, this term can also cover the beach, foredunes, dune slacks, fens, swamps, lochs and saltmarshes which together form a ‘machair system’.
Machair is one of the rarest habitats in Europe, found only in the north and west of Scotland and Ireland. It is estimated that there are 25,000 hectares of machair worldwide, with 17,500 hectares in Scotland and the remainder in western Ireland. Almost half of the Scottish machair occurs in the Outer Hebrides, with the best and most extensive areas in the Uists, Barra and Tiree.