Scotland’s unique coastal meadows mapped for the first time

The machair at Ardivachar in South Uist. Picture  Robert Perry

The machair at Ardivachar in South Uist. Picture Robert Perry

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A map of Scotland’s varying habitats is being created for the first time, including the rich coastal meadows known as machair.

The dune grasslands found on the Hebrides and parts of Orkney, Shetland and the north west Highland coast are

of particular interest to scientists.

Machair provides important habitats for seabirds and grazing for crofters’ livestock, and covers around 32,123 acres (13,000 ha) of Scotland.

Scottish Natural Heritage is coordinating the development of the Habitat Map of Scotland, a stated objective of Scotland’s 2020 biodiversity strategy.

This will bring together all the habitat information available for Scotland and display it in one place and in a common classification - providing a unique tool for the management of our natural heritage

This interactive map will be made freely available through the SEWEB portal and SNH aims to have a complete map of Scotland by 2019.

The map will display information about all land and freshwater habitats in Scotland with special attention being paid to our 51 habitats of European importance.

Together with the UK SeaMap it will create a complete picture of all Scotland’s habitats.

Although led by Scottish Natural Heritage, it is a multi-partner project involving the private sector, government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Habitat information collected so far covers almost half of Scotland.

Scottish Natural Heritage has been successfully mapping the distribution of machair, a unique habitat and special feature of Scotland’s coastal environment.

To view the latest map, visit the SNH website.

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