Left to its own devices, the seasonal scrambling-up and dying-off of Tiree’s vegetation would crowd out low-growing and pioneer species. In the struggle for light, and as nutrients seep into the soil from their decaying comrades, plant communities go through a process of succession. If Tiree’s crofters and grazing animals all left the island tomorrow (a busy day for CalMac), the island would transmogrify from machair to willow scrub. This latter is a useful habitat in its own right – but it is not as diverse as the present patchwork of flower-rich plains, oozing wet flushes, in-bye croft fields and peaty sliabh. Thus, with acid soils tempered by the sea, it is the carefully managed grazing of animals that maintains our spectacular floral abundance.
Posted in Wildfeed.