Hebridean Coastline
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Coastal Care

The coastal care project is financially supported by The Crown Estate and Scottish Natural Heritage. Coastal care is a community partnership programme which uses local knowledge and enthusiasm to restore and protect dunes and soft coasts.

The project is to undertake a range of beach and dune management, restoration and flood protection initiatives. The project supports one of the main strategic aims of Coast Hebrides coastal partnership:  ‘Take forward the issues of erosion and climate change and develop projects to mitigate the effects of these.’  The adoption of a community-based partnership forms an essential component for successful implementation of the project and a network of ‘Coastal Care’ groups has been established throughout the Uists.

Vatersay boardwalkIn Barra, help is being provided through assisting the planning of boardwalk access to the beaches in Vatersay and by paying for a year’s marram grass planting in Eoligarry. Sand dune erosion control measures include erecting sand blow fencing and planting marram grass. There is nothing new in the methods except that easier and less labour intensive ways of doing it are being tried and a more coordinated approach is being made to address problems on the whole coast.

Sand blow fencing has been erected by crofters under township schemes for many years. They have mainly been constructed from timber pallets and rails nailed to fence stobs so that wind blown sand collects Sand blow fencingbehind or between rows of fencing. This method can be very successful in filling in gaps in dunes and thereby slowing erosion. While not discounting this method, the coastal care groups are keen to use end-of-life fish farm cage netting as a fencing material. These fish farm nets are processed at the local net servicing station by stripping unwanted material such as lead line and nylon fixings and cutting them up into widths suitable for use in the dunes. The net fencing has been successfully trialled by Eoligarry Township in Barra with almost 400 metres having been erected and more has been used on the island of Vatersay. Processed nets and fence stobs have been purchased and are available for community use.

marram grassMarram grass is transplanted to stabilise blow outs in the dunes. Marram seed is to be collected as part of trials in growing marram shoots under nursery conditions. The aim of this is to provide a ready supply of marram without the arduous process of uprooting mature plants. If this proves to be successful the scale will be expanded so that larger areas can be planted.  

CoastAdapt (www.coastadapt.org)

The objective of the CoastAdapt project is to encourage and develop action on adaptation in response to the effects of climate change for people living and working in Europe’s North Atlantic coastal regions. The project has twelve partners including Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, from Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and Islands, Iceland, and Norway. In each of the partner countries there are associate partners, for example, Scotland has the Scottish Crofting Federation, VisitScotland and CoastHebrides. The Northern Periphery Programme is providing funding towards the project which will work with people living in communities vulnerable to climate change and develop more effective policies as changes take place on our coast due to sea level rise and future storms. The project summary is available in the Publications section.