Primary Land Use

Archaeological records suggest widespread settlement in the lower levels of the Cairngorms National Park, from the Bronze Age onwards. During the mediaeval period, populations were ravaged by clan feuding, plague and famines, while the forests were cleared.

By 1700, viable communities were living a subsistence existence, far up the glens. In summer, animals grazed around shielings , high in the hills. In autumn, the cattle were taken through the Cairngorm mountains to markets in Crieff and Falkirk. Only after the Rebellions of 1715 and 1745 did evictions occur from some glens. At the same time, clan leaders and landowners led a good life, while people in the glens were starving.

The population continued to expand in the 1800s, but after 1840 only the towns had grown, as the glens had emptied. The late 1800s brought the railway from Perth to Inverness through Aviemore. At the same time, healthy Highland air and field sports were popularised by Queen Victoria, beginning the Highland sporting estate culture, bringing with it distinctive architecture, and a tourism industry that is so important today.

Present land uses
Traditional land uses are still important – hill farming, forestry and estate game management. However, tourism and recreation are one of thel Park's biggest source of employment and income today. The area offers recreational opportunities for people all over Scotland and for those travelling from further away. It makes sound economic, social and environmental sense to protect the quality of the Cairngorms National Park's natural and cultural heritage, which the visitors come to enjoy.

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