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|Action Plan Contents|
Biodiversity Action Plan - October 2003
CLIMATE AND HUMAN IMPACT
A crucial factor in soil development on the West is the oceanic climate. Rainfall is high, summers are cool and winters are relatively mild. The interaction between climate and the underlying rock and glacial debris determines soil development and, from that, the different types of vegetation that we see today. Altitude too has a profound effect. At higher altitudes average temperatures are much lower, wind speeds are greater, freeze-thaw cycles disturb root systems and recycling of nutrients is much slower. In Sutherland, this altitudinal effect is compressed because of the cool summer temperatures, and consequently we see species or communities at or near sea level that would normally only occur higher up the mountains. Climate change is an issue of concern these days. However, it should be noted that our climate has been getting progressively warmer since the last glaciation, and that Sutherland’s vegetation and animal life has been responding accordingly. This is illustrated by an increase and decline in tree cover.
During the Clearances of the early
to mid 19th Century, people were moved off the inland straths to the
coasts, to be replaced by vast flocks of sheep.
From east to west and north to
south, the underlying geology, changing climate and human impact has
determined the presence and abundance