RSPB have lead the partnership for over two years from the idea emerging, through the European bid process and into a live, working project. Scottish Natural Heritage and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have crucially acted as co-financial partners, while the Scottish Crofting Federation have been an important stakeholder in the process.
RSPB work is driven by a passionate belief that we all have a responsibility to protect birds and the environment. Bird populations reflect the health of the planet on which our future depends.
The need for an effective bird conservation organisation has never been greater. Climate change, agricultural intensification, expansion of urban areas and transport infrastructure, and over-exploitation of our seas all pose major threats to birds.
The RSPB have worked as lead partners to progress the project to implementation and beyond. For over 40 years the society has maintained a reserve on the islands, at Balranald on North Uist. And it is this positive experience of working with crofters on machair habitats that has driven the proposal forward.
Scotland's natural heritage is its wildlife, habitats, landscapes and natural beauty. Scotland is renowned for its attractive scenery and wild places and has a huge diversity of landscapes, habitats and wildlife. These are part of what makes Scotland special and are among the country's greatest assets. Scottish Natural Heritage is funded by the Scottish Government. Our purpose is to:
All our work supports our mission: All of nature for all of Scotland.
The Comhairle (Western Isles Council) are the local authority covering the Western Isles, also known as the Outer Hebrides, and Eilean nan Siar in the native Gaelic. The islands form part of the Outer Hebrides, with the Argyll islands to the south (colloquially known as the Inner Hebrides).
The crofting system is still a mainstay of island life for many, and it is this that has supported a range of enigmatic species for generations.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in conjunction with a number of stakeholders have produced a Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP). The focus has initially come down to a number of key species, many of which are found on the islands machairs and designated sites.
The SCF is the only member-led organisation dedicated to promoting crofting and it is the largest association of small scale food producers in the UK. The Scottish Crofting Federation work to:
Established and run by crofters themselves, the SCF actively engages with agencies and government officials at local, national and international levels to influence policy on rural, agricultural, social, environmental and other issues.
In 1992 European Union governments adopted legislation designed to protect the most seriously threatened habitats and species across Europe. This legislation is called the Habitats Directive and complements the Birds Directive. At the heart of both these Directives is the creation of a network of sites called Natura 2000. The Birds Directive requires the establishment of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for birds. The Habitats Directive similarly requires Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to be designated for other species, and for habitats. Together, SPAs and SACs make up the Natura 2000 series. All EU Member States contribute to the network of sites in a Europe-wide partnership from the Canaries to Crete and from Sicily to Finnish Lapland.
Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are classified under the Birds Directive to help protect and manage areas which are important for rare and vulnerable birds because they use them for breeding, feeding, wintering or migration.
Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are classified under the Habitats Directive and provide rare and vulnerable animals, plants and habitats with increased protection and management.
LIFE is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU, as well as in some candidate, acceding and neighbouring countries. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed some 3115 projects, contributing approximately €2 billion to the protection of the environment.
LIFE is a truly international affair. Conserving Scottish Machair LIFE+ is one of a family of projects across EU member states. Have a look to see how other countries are supporting their habitats and species.