A survey of crofters’ attitudes taken this month by the Scottish Crofting Federation shows that crofters are wary of the future of the livestock industry in the Highlands and Islands.
Only 14% of respondents are confident about the future, as compared to more than twice that number who are despondent (31%). Fifty five per cent said they were uncertain, citing Brexit and the knock-on effect that might have on prices and support payments.
Crofters and farmers are having to make decisions on stock numbers without knowing what sort of market they are going to be selling animals into. With both sheep and cattle producers, more people are reducing stock numbers than increasing them. For cattle the figures are 24% reducing stock and 13% increasing; for sheep the numbers are 26% reducing stock and 19% increasing. Most people are maintaining numbers while waiting to see what happens. But the drift of livestock from the hills is set to continue.
Steps are being taken to prevent Skye's meteorite sites becoming further victims of geo-vandalism.
Located in south Skye, the sites gained widespread media coverage after Dr Simon Drake of Birkbeck College and Dr Andrew Beard discovered evidence of meteorite impact earlier this year. The deposits contained vanadium rich Osbornite and niobium rich osbornite - mineral material never before found on the planet.
However, the site at the chambered cairn was recently targeted by meteorite hunters, who sold samples online.
Ewen MacPherson from the Estates Office in Portree, advised that both he and the crofting graziers were pleased to agree to carry out a few small measures on the site in order to help protect it.
Dr Simon Drake told The Skye Times: "The site has existed for 60 million years through wind, rain and glaciation - and then is partly destroyed in minutes, presumably with a pick and shovel."
Inverness' Eastgate Centre and Victorian Market are working together this Christmas.
The Eastgate Centre will have reindeer-themed decorations, while their existing festive decorations have been donated to the Victorian Market.
Jackie Cuddy, Eastgate Centre Manager, stated: "We have always believed that a City Centre is only as good as the parts it is made up of. The Victorian Market has as big a part to play in the vitality of the City Centre as Eastgate Centre. As a member of the stakeholder group for the Victorian Market it seemed an obvious choice to donate the decorations to the Market.
"In addition it is always good to recycle and refurbish decorations especially when they can be utilised for the benefits of the local community elsewhere."
Accepting the donated decorations, Victorian Market Manager, Jo Murray, said: “This is an exceptionally generous gift that the Victorian Market has received and I thank Jackie Cuddy for supporting us in this way. We could not have afforded this type of internal decoration otherwise. It goes to show how collaborative working among Inverness city centre businesses can benefit the public for the least amount of expense. We are installing some of the decorations in Market Arcade this year with a view to adapt the rest for future use around the Market.”