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Southern Uplands

General view in Southern Uplands
General view in Southern Uplands
The Southern Uplands stretches across the Scottish mainland from St Abb's Head to Corsewall Point and has as it's northern boundary, the Southern Upland Fault where the gently dipping sediments of the Central Lowlands give rise to the weakly metamorphosed and strongly folded, harder greywackes and shales. In general terms, smooth, rounded, strongly dissected and steep sided hills characterise the landscape. However, the landscape of the hard granites to the west in Galloway is different and bears a close resemblance to part of the Highlands in being typically rugged with much outcropping rock.

The cover of soft weathered material of the pre-existing landscape was removed by the ice sheets of the major Pleistocene Glaciations but the erosive topographic effects of that time period were less severe than that associated with the Highlands. Localised exceptions include the steep corries etched into the western hills, the Moffat Hills and Broad Law and the overdeepened rock basins occupied by Loch Doon, Loch Trool and St Mary's Loch. Much of the Southern Uplands were free
of ice so the periglacial activity was more important in shaping the landscape. Frost activity on the relatively soft rocks provided abundant material which moved downslope to mantle and smooth the hill slopes in central and eastern areas. Thick deposits of clayey tills are widespread within the valleys and basal hill slopes whereas loamy and sandy soliflucted material covers hill summits and upper slopes. Thin drift and shallow soils are characteristic of the granitic rocks in the west.


General view in Southern Uplands
General view in Southern Uplands
Land use is affected by a variety of environmental factors. Within valley sites deep, loamy, easily-worked alluvial soils represent sites for arable cropping. Since the 1950s there has been a large expansion in plantation forestry in this area. On valley sides at low to moderate altitudes most of the soils have been cultivated but rush-infested pastures predominate on unimproved areas. Permanent pasture forms an important component on stock-rearing farms. On higher, steep slopes grass conservation is impossible and a variety of semi-natural plant communities, most widespread of which is heather woodland, are utilised for rough grazing.

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.