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The rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands is an iconic image recognised throughout the world. However, the history is a far cry from the idyllic settings adorning whisky bottles from Japan to Jamaica. After the Jacobite Rising of 1745, landowners found that they could earn more money from this often inhospitable environment by grazing sheep on the land than the meagre income raised from poor crofters. Thus, the notorious Highland Clearances were enforced, often violently. In the following decades, the Industrial Revolution stimulated resettling in urban areas, further reducing the population. The Highlands have since become one of the most sparsely populated areas in Europe, with around six people per square mile.

But the Highlands are now poised to take centre stage in Scotland’s development. As the world’s population steadily increases, so too does demand for resources, which has led governments, businesses, and organizations to focus on a more sustainable approach to catering to the needs of the population. And the Scottish Highlands are leading the way in creating a sustainable future for Scotland.

Government measures to promote sustainability

The Highlands Council introduced the programme ‘A Sustainable Highland – Change Strategy for 2019-2022’ in December 2018. This set out the commitments that the Council aimed to deliver over the following 3 years.

The strategy focuses on 4 key themes: Efficiency; Commercialism and Income Generation; Redesign and Improvement; and a Flexible & Managed Workforce.

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