Crofters in the North of Skye could help shape the future when Scottish parliamentarians meet in the New Year.
For "Grazing the Edge" a 35 minute film which shows Staffin crofters at work is set to be shown to a Scottish Government cross-party gathering when they meet to discuss crofting in Holyrood.
The film features local crofters who have sheep on the Corries and Staffin General grazings, which cover large swathes of hill ground lying on and below the Ridge and are close to the Storr and Hill of the Red Fox. Drones and GoPros captured the crofters going about their work and Staffin’s landscape is also shown in all its glory.
The contribution Staffin crofters make to managing the land of “high nature value” is the focus of the 35-minute film which includes appearances by Ronald Angus MacDonald, DolAlec Gillies, Iain MacLeod (Marrishadder), Donald MacDonald (Clachan), Stewart Clark (Stenscholl) and Donald MacLeod (Culnacnoc).
The men are shown gathering, rescuing animals from bogs, shearing, dosing etc as they explain the importance of common grazings to Scotland’s agricultural industry. The sharp decline in cattle numbers in recent years in Skye is also discussed as are the threats to crofting such as sea eagles, the lack of young people coming into crofting and concerns that vital skills will be lost to future generations. However, young Skye crofters, Iain Beaton from Gesto and David MacLean, of Sconser, are also featured and demonstrate there is a new active generation coming through. Braes crofter and Crofting Commissioner IG MacDonald called on inactive tenants in township to allow their neighbours or others to use their share and increase stock.
Janette Sutherland, who is the Corries and Staffin General clerk and also works for Scotland’s Rural College in Portree, said the new film illustrated the challenges local crofters faced rearing sheep on hill grazings.
The film was made in collaboration with researchers from the James Hutton Institute and the Universities Innovation fund, via the Scottish Funding Council. It is part of a research project which will outline how upland land use is key for for community, agricultural and environmental benefits. The voice of Kilmuir Gaelic singer Anne Martin is heard throughout the film which can be viewed via this link to You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLrHlPDoqrw&feature=youtu.be