Time and Tide: Ecological Transformation and Restoration on Scotland’s Coastline

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Machair is a distinct type of grassland unique to the northern and western coasts of Ireland and Scotland, the latter of which is the focus of this paper. This landscape is a product of both the climatic conditions of these regions, characterized by heavy wind and wave activity, and a form of agriculture called crofting. Dating back to massive agricultural and social changes in the 18th and 19th centuries, crofting still persists today and employs a number of traditional agricultural techniques, such as rotational cereal crop production, seasonal livestock grazing, and the application of seaweed fertilizer. These practices encourage diversity among machair vegetation, which then supports a number of invertebrate and bird species. Because of its ecological uniqueness, machair has been at the center of conservation efforts since the mid-20th century. The protection of this landscape, however, can only proceed with the help of crofters. Machair therefore acts as a prime example of the ways in which humans and wildlife can coexist in mutually beneficial relationships and of the significance of partnerships in conservation.


Humanities: 1st Place (The Ohio State University Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum)


Conservation, Scotland, Coastline, Grassland, Crofting, Environmental history