Machair Under Threat
Jim Densham, Senior Land Use Policy Officer for RSPB Scotland wrote an interesting letter to The Glasgow Herald last week in reponse to an article about machair and sea-level rise . Mr Densham wrote:-
“Last summer I visited the island of Tiree and saw first-hand the impact that an increasing number of ferocious storms and climate change is having and the threat to the unique machair habitat. Your article highlighted that machair is under threat from melting ice sheets and glaciers, and came hot on the heels of two related news stories last week. A new climate change and biodiversity report card showed that wildlife across Scotland is under pressure now from a variety of climate-induced changes. We also heard for the first time in three million years levels in the atmosphere of the principle greenhouse gas carbon dioxide had reached the symbolic 400ppm milestone and continue to rise.
Nature is telling us that climate change is having an effect right now and scientists are telling us what the future consequences will be for wildlife and for communities in Scotland. RSPB Scotland is working with crofters and partners in the Hebrides on its Machair LIFE+ project to ensure a viable future for both the resident crofting community and the fantastic wildlife their land use supports, such as the secretive corncrake. All this will be for nothing and future generations will be unable to visit machair as we know it if we don’t do more now to stop burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases.”
Emily Beament’s original article, entitled “Machair under threat from rise in level of seas”, The Herald May 15 2013, argued that Scotland’s sensitive machair meadows could be put at risk by flooding as scientists predict global warming could cause sea levels to rise more than previously expected over the next century.
The machair will be among the environments under threat according to new research into melting ice sheets and glaciers by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey and Bristol University, who are collaborating on the European Ice2sea programme. Professor David Vaughan, of the British Antarctic Survey, who is co-ordinating the programme, said:
“As the glaciers and ice sheets lose their ice, the water they once held has melted and flowed in to rivers and seas, increasing their volume and raising global sea levels. Current rates of sea level rise are already having impacts on the most vulnerable communities and ecosystems.”