Machair is a priority habitat defined as much by its landform and management as by its vegetation, which overlaps to a fair degree with that of fixed, stable sand dunes. It consists of level to gently-sloping expanses of coastal ground between the main dune systems and the terrestrial heaths and bogs beyond the influence of the sea. The substrate consists of wind-blown calcareous sand, commonly made up of fragments of shells and other marine creatures. Machairs have been managed for at least a thousand years in a low-intensity, traditional scheme of seasonal grazing and rotational cultivation, without artificial fertilisers or herbicides.
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