Most of the west coast of the islands consists of soft machair land. This has always been an important resource for crofting. In the past, crofters would plant crops on this land, using a crop rotation scheme of leaving land fallow for 1-2 years before planting again. More recently, machair land has been increasingly used for livestock grazing, mainly in the winter season, with cropping continuing in the summer.
Throughout the Western Isles, there are many sites of archaeological interest, many of these situated on machair areas. Sites such as Cladh Hallan located near Daliburgh, South Uist and Dun Vulan in Bornish, South Uist are located in coastal areas and are at risk of being lost to the sea. In these areas, the price of protection has to be measured against historical importance to best decide what level of protection can be given to such sites.
The machair areas of the coastline are most at risk from erosion. Because of the soft sandy structure of the beaches, dunes and machair system, the area is easily eroded by wind, and considerable damage has been seen in the past during storm conditions. We can attempt to stabilise the most vulnerable areas of the coastal dune system, and are putting in place projects to try and do so.