When studying glaciers, there is so much to consider, not just what a glacier is, how they are formed, what their processes are and the landscapes they sculpt, but what effects do they have on people? ...Glaciated landscapes can have positive and negative impacts on human activity.
For example, the highlands can be used for sheep farming; however other farming activities are unfeasible. The steep mountainous landscape means the land cannot be ploughed, plus the cold, wet windy weather means that arable farming is impossible. The slopes will only support relatively poor vegetation making it only possible to rear sheep on the land. However this can have a damaging effect on the environment as trees and other vegetation need clearing first.
Lower down in the valley, the floors are made up of heavy clay soils which are more suitable for rearing dairy cattle and crops such as turnips and potatoes, helping create jobs boosting the local economy. It can be argued that farmers use of fertilizers, pesticides and weed killers are damaging the natural environment. Also intensive farming in these areas can displace vegetation and wildlife.
The highlands are great to support tree growth and therefore many conifers are planted. This forestry provides jobs for many and supplies locals with timbre. By planting the conifers, this reduces soil erosion in the area and prevents deforestation taking place elsewhere. However forestry can push out other types of vegetation and can prevent other activities such as farming which can potentially go into decline. The plating of trees can not only provide a habitat for flora and fauna it can also destroy other habitats.
Glaciated highlands are also popular for tourism due to the picturesque scenery with their beautiful lakes and mountains, an example being the Lake District (a National Park). Tourists tend to walk, climb, bike, ski and camp in these areas which are also very popular for educational trips. High levels of tourism in an area can bring wealth to the community and provide many with jobs. However due to the high influxes of tourists to these areas, and the facilities being built to accommodate such high demands the Government has stepped in to preserve many of these National Parks.
Glaciated highlands are also used for Hydro Electric Power (HEP). These areas are among the wettest in the country and their deep valleys are ideal for building dams to support HEP. However at the same time, the building of HEP and creation of reservoirs can have a dramatic impact on the environment causing the flora and fauna in the surrounding areas to also suffer. Not only this but HEP can be considered as an eye sore.
The many positive attributes are also accompanied by many conflicts.
Water companies fight farmers over flooding valley floor farmland, conservationists over ruining the natural countryside, and tourists wanting to use the water for leisure activities.
Farmers fight road builders who use up valuable land for roads and car parks, and tourists who drop litter, leave farm gates open ad damage dry stone walls by climbing over them.
Conservationists fight tourist over spoiling the scenery with overcrowding – damaging natural features by footpath erosion, tourist accommodation etc.
The National Park Authorities have to balance out the various uses and demands without destroying the nature of the resource that is a major attraction in the first place.
Students should consider and weigh up all the positive and negative impacts glaciers can have on human activity. I feel these will be displayed best in a table.