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Sep 2013

Machair conservation top of the agenda on Uist. The machair LIFE+ conference was held on Thursday 29th August at Talla an Iochdar and was well attended by a wide range of delegates.

The conference was opened by Councillor Uisdean Robertson in his own witty manner followed by introductions from the project partners, Norman MacDonald from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Johanne Ferguson of Scottish Natural Heritage and Maria Scholten on behalf of the Scottish Crofting Federation.

Johanne’s presentation is available here: Why machair is special.

The Machair LIFE+ project team introduced aspects of the project’s work, with Matthew Topsfield summarising the project management works, Rebecca Cotton and Hazel Smith reflecting on the community and education programme and Rory MacGillivary reviewed the achievements of the Uist crop protection scheme.


Project management works
Community and education programme

A number of speakers then shone a spotlight on particular aspects of the machair wildlife, with the RSPB’s Julia Gallagher detailing the findings of her sabbatical on the importance of late-cut arable crops as cover for corncrake, Dr Mike Wilson of the national Museum of Wales and Dr Alan Stewart of the University of Sussex opening our eyes to the world of bugs on the machair and RSPB’s Jamie Boyle highlighting the top six species of wader that can be found on the machair and the worrying plight of the corn bunting.


Late cut & corncrake
Machair bugs
Waders & corn bunting

The afternoon workshop sessions provided an opportunity for delegates to discuss issues around the conservation of seed of the indigenous Uist landraces, agri-environment policy and sustainable crofting communities. A summary of the key points captured will follow in due course, and be used to inform the end-of-project report/recommendations and engagement with new policies and support for the machair.

The plenary session provided a final opportunity to reflect on all topics covered throughout the day and discuss some issues in further detail.

The Machair LIFE+ team would like to thank all who took part in the conference, speakers and delegates alike without whom such a stimulating and enjoyable day would not have been possible.

For more information about this event please contact the Machair LIFE+ project office on 01870 603361.