Staffin crofters film released and is Holyrood bound

IT’S not quite a Christmas DVD…but a film featuring Staffin crofters at work – which was premiered last month – is a special release itself – and can now be watched online in time for the festive season.

And the successful production, which saw Staffin crofters and their collies wear GoPros to capture them gathering their stock on the Trotternish Ridge, is set to go to Holyrood, in 2017 for a screening at the Scottish Parliament before MSPs.

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).

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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.

The film, which was shot in 2015 and earlier this year, will be shown to the parliament’s cross-party group on crofting in January or February.

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