A land of opportunities - Employment
Farming and forestry continue to be fundamentally important to the Southern Upland's economy but are being affected by major changes in these industries. Tourism is becoming increasingly important, creating varied business opportunities that can help sustain rural communities.
The south of Scotland is famed for producing high quality livestock and is renowned for its stockmen. A number of breeds originated in this area, including Ayrshire dairy cows, Galloway cattle and Cheviot sheep. Changes in farming are encouraging diversification and environmental stewardship. Some farms are organic or produce locally branded, high quality farm foods, sold in farm shops or at increasingly popular 'Farmers' Markets'. Some farmers are diversifying into completely new areas of business.
The forestry industry is addressing concerns about the environmental and landscape impacts of large-scale coniferous forests. The process will be slow, given the long timescales of crop rotations but will ensure that future forests are designed to suit the landscape with networks of broad-leafed trees and areas of open ground.
Walking, fishing and grouse shooting are part of the Southern Uplands tradition. 'Green' and nature-based tourism initiatives are increasing, along with new interpretation facilities and nature reserves.
The Southern Uplands has been providing power from sustainable resources for many decades. The Galloway Power Scheme utilises much of the local waterpower. More recently, wind farm developments use the uplands' windswept nature and are likely to increase, requiring careful siting to avoid adverse impacts on communities, the landscape and wildlife. The potential for locally grown timber to fuel heating systems is also being explored. The Southern Uplands is particularly attractive to artists and craftspeople who have established numerous studios and galleries across the area. As well as selling to locals and visitors, their products are sold throughout the UK and beyond.
Lying between the major northern cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and Newcastle, this area is attracting some of Scotland's most innovative and ambitious small companies, including engineering, electronics, financial services, software development, biotechnology, food processing, rubber and plastics, consultancy and e-commerce businesses.
Advances in information and communications technologies mean that people can work from home, rather than having to be based in towns and cities. Growing numbers of people are escaping from urban life and combining the pleasures of the Southern Uplands with developing their own new businesses.
These developments provide exciting prospects for this area, which needs to retain its young people and welcome dynamic 'incomers' to keep communities vibrant and thriving.
"This is the Night Mail crossing
Bringing the cheque and the postal order.
Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder,
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder"
W.H. Auden from 'Night Mail'