The biodiversity value of Scotland’s machair systems is of global significance, but the plant communities in wetter parts of the machair are not well defined. Here, the authors highlight recent work to define and describe these communities, raising awareness of these unique habitats.
Many readers of British Wildlife will be familiar with the machair system, found most frequently on the western Scottish and Irish mainlands and islands. The Gaelic term ‘machair’ is defined by Hansom & Angus (2005) as a gently sloping coastal dune-plain formed from windblown calcareous shell-sand. The name is often, however, used more broadly to describe habitats beyond the sandy plain, including lochs and bogs, which retain some calcareous influence (Pakeman et al. 2011).