Loch Druidibeg

Situated on the Isle of South Uist west off the Scottish coast, Loch Druidibeg Biosphere Reserve exhibits a cross-section of habitats from alkaline machair grassland through oligotrophic loch to acidic moorland.

This highly diverse range of habitats is variously influenced by the oceanic exposure with high levels of salt spray and humidity, and the influence of settled agriculture on which the species-rich machair grassland depends. Loch Druidibeg is managed for strict conservation purposes, however traditional cultivation and cattle grazing practices are encouraged as an integral part of management for biodiversity. Numerous cooperative projects between conservation agencies and the local community in the Uists are carried out. The biosphere reserve also includes a Ramsar site.

Declaration Date: 1976
Surface Area: 1677ha
Administrative Division: Comhairle Nan Eilean Sian (Western Isles Council), Scotland

Human Activities

  • Traditional crofting - rotational cultivation, seasonal stock grazing and fallow periods encourage a rich flora on the machair.
  • Recreation, tourism, fishing
  • Housing

Ecological Characteristics

Loch Druidibeg is part of the largest machair (dune grassland) system in the British Isles, and has a complete transition of habitats from the western coastal machair to the inland acid moorland and blanket bog.

This range of habitats supports many notable plants and animals. The westfacing shore of sand and shingle is highly exposed to saltspray from the Atlantic Ocean. It is fringed by low shellsand dunes with dune slacks, and grades eastwards into a machair plain containing shallow lochs with associated fens and marshes. Internationally significant numbers of waders, such as dunlin, feed and nest on the machair.

The shallow nutrient-rich lochs on the machair plain have sandy or peaty shores, and show successions from open water to species-diverse marsh and fen communities. In contrast, Loch Druidibeg itself and the small inland lochs surrounded by blanket bog are nutrient-poor and support a different range of freshwater species.

The area is one of the most important breeding grounds in the British Isles for native greylag geese. Many of the islands in Loch Druidibeg are covered by relict woodland scrub dominated by Willows with Rowan, Birch, Juniper and a woodland flora of Bluebell, Primrose and Royal fern around their shores.

Protection Classifications

At the national level

  • National Nature Reserve
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest
  • Part of South Uist Machair Special Area of Conservation
  • Part of South Uist Machair and Lochs Special Protection* Area

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                                                                              Last update: January 2015

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