Views of Galloway - 7

Pictures and Images of A Fair Land

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Hills and Trees :

The people of Galloway have made part of their living from the often infertile and storm-lashed land about them. During the eighteenth century they learned how to lime and drain moss and heathland, bringing thousands of acres into production. The moorlands were of little use except for grazing sheep and goats, although in the nineteenth century they became shooting estates for deer and grouse.

Peat (turf) was cut from many moorland bogs and lowland mosses when the native tree cover declined; Dalbeattie owes its rapid early growth to peat cutting rights given to feuholders who settled there. Even the hawthorn hedges were cropped for brushwood to fuel fires and bread ovens. The same desperate need for fuel lead to the coppicing of up to 60 % of the trees and the estate planting of timber trees in hedgerows and plantations. This favoured species such as oak, ash, beech, Scots Pine, hazel and elm. Some native species such as oak, ash, holly, rowan, hazel and birch still flourish, but sycamore and beech are well-established naturalised species.

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The Forestry Commission bought up vast tracts of land in the uplands during the 1920s; by the late 1980s, almost 40 % of the whole of Dumfries and Galloway was covered in trees, most of it plantation spruces, larch, pine and fir. More environmentally-friendly species are now planted to provide a lasting deciduous tree cover, - mainly birch, oak, ash and beech. By the year 2000, half a million tonnes of timber will leave the woods each year.

The woods have been an unexpected tourist draw; places such as Ae Forest, Mabie Forest, Dalbeattie Forest and Galloway Forest Park, are homes to millions of birds and animals. They offer tranquillity and interest to the walker, naturalist and cyclist, as well as the occasional venue for rally-driving and field sports. More often than not, it is the peace of trees and birds that draws visitors.

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Views of Galloway started 12th March 1998,
last updated 26th February 1999.