ONE of the Isle of Skye’s most recognizable landmarks, the Old Man of Storr, will undergo crucial habitat restoration work this autumn thanks to a project led by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland and supported by the Skye Iconic Sites Partnership.
Storr is one of the most popular visitor attractions on the island, receiving over 200,000 visitors a year. However, this level of treading has worn down the vegetation and led to soil erosion.
Last year, the Skye Iconic Sites Project (SISP) carried out habitat restoration trials, including collecting and sowing local wildflower seeds to help restore wildflower-rich meadows.
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A lightweight jute mesh known as ‘GeoJute’ will be used to stabilize areas of soil that have been eroded by frequent walking.
This will be combined with on-site seeding and turfing to restore vegetation. The mesh is held in place with pins and boulders scattered on top, which both secure the mesh and create sheltered microclimates for seedling establishment.
Jute netting is used to stabilize vulnerable soils around the globe, helping to both physically protect the soil and capture silt and runoff. Other work will involve “damming” deep gullies with stones and turf to slow down rainwater and capture eroding soil. Drainage ditches will also be used to help interrupt natural drainage entering the gullies.
To protect contractors and the public, access to small areas of the site will be temporarily restricted.
Dougie Baird, CEO of the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland, said: “The understandable popularity of the Old Man of Storr as a unique visitor attraction has led to erosion of the grassland, which is a crucial component of the local ecosystem and a key part. of Scotland’s natural heritage.
“We are very grateful for the support of the Scottish Iconic Sites project to make this project possible and for your support in protecting this spectacular landscape for future generations.”
Alistair Danter, Chairman of SISP, added: “It’s great to be able to complete this challenging work which will make the site resilient and available for generations to come.
“The economic and environmental value that an asset such as the Old Man of Storr represents to the local community is hard to overestimate.”
SISP is part of a nearly £9m program of projects to invest in the Highlands and Islands to provide more and better opportunities for visitors to enjoy the natural and cultural heritage.