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Special Areas of Conservation

Tiree Machair

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Scotland
Unitary Authority Highlands and Islands
Centroid* NL972475
Latitude 56.52194444
Longitude -6.924166667
SAC EU Code UK0014744
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 789.37
* This is the approximate central point of the SAC. In the case of large, linear or composite sites, this may not represent the location where a feature occurs within the SAC.
Location of Tiree Machair SAC

General site character

  • Coastal sand dunes, Sand beaches, Machair (80%)
  • Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (7%)
  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (5%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (0.5%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (1%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (4%)
  • Inland rocks, Screes, Sands, Permanent Snow and ice (2%)
  • Other land (including Towns, Villages, Roads, Waste places, Mines, Industrial sites) (0.5%)

Download the Standard Data Form for this site (PDF <100kb)

Note When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • Mobile dune is scarce on Tiree except on west Tiree, the largest dune system in the Inner Hebrides. The dune front morphology and vegetation closely resemble Crossapol and Feall Bay on Coll Machair but blowouts are less frequent and there is a more rapid transition to semi-fixed dune. As at Coll Machair, the mobile sands contribute to the maintenance of dynamic hindshore 21A0 Machair.

  • The 21A0 Machair on Tiree features similar vegetation to Coll, but the sand is more stable, and rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus are absent. Calcareous fixed dunes are extensive, with a wide range of these represented, including large areas of lightly grazed fixed dune, relatively uncommon in northern Scotland.

  • Tiree is considered to have the most extensive and diverse area of machair outside the Outer Hebrides. 24% of the total area of the island is machair. The machair complex on Tiree is uncultivated and has a long history of seasonal grazing. There is a diverse series of physical machair formations. The Tiree complex is also noteworthy as one of the few examples of rabbit-free machair in Scotland. An Fhaodhail and the Reef is an extensive area of wet machair grading into an extensive marsh and wetland (An Fhaodhail), and is the only site in the Inner Hebrides that is influenced by saline water, although this has recently been restricted by the insertion of a tidal flood-gate. The site is unusual in that it is grazed only by cattle, a traditional management practice that has maintained an extremely rich and varied flora. In contrast, Hough Bay – Balevullin is a complex of dry machair and hummocky dunes forming an intricate mosaic with wet machair and dune slack vegetation.

  • The Tiree Machair comprises some of the finest examples of calcareous sand dunes grading into machair plain and machair loch (Loch Bhasapol). The Tiree Machair cSAC comprises four discrete areas located in the central and north western areas of the island of Tiree. Loch Bhasapol and other lochs on the machair plain represent high quality naturally eutrophic waterbodies that reflect a strong maritime influence. The eutrophic condition of the waterbodies is derived from the sand deposits and dunes that are prevalent throughout the site. The lochs support a diverse aquatic plant flora with several species indicative of the maritime influence, including brackish water-crowfoot Ranunculus baudotii that has a restricted UK and European distribution. The site also supports eight species of pondweed, including the nationally scarce fen pondweed Potamogeton coloratus, and slender-leaved pondweed P. filiformis, together with the locally rare fennel pondweed P. pectinatus.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • Not Applicable

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

  • Not Applicable

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.