Here's a short introduction to the complex interactions between people, distribution of wealth and the land from When The Ground Fails: An Economic Watershed.
Just as Culloden represents somewhat of a "watershed" in the Highlands' economic history, so too the 1990s mark another economic watershed -- rapidly changing communications and other technologies are impacting enormously on many facets of life in Canada. If implemented, global free trade in agricultural produce may radically alter -- or perhaps destroy -- the family farm, one of the original building blocks of Canadian society. The Culloden anniversary year, 1996, is indeed a most appropriate time to look at radical economic change. When the Ground Fails: An Economic Watershed, describes, in part, a Lowland version of what was happening in the Highlands following Culloden -- "Clearances" from the rural countryside were not solely a Highland phenomenon.
The latter decades [1750-1800] of the period under study here were indeed a "watershed" in our socio-economic development. It was finally realized that the subsistence-level agricultural practices could no longer support the population and the growing demands of the national economy -- the so-called "Agricultural Revolution" was a profound response to an emerging set of new forces. But one of the many active forces, although not new, was the increasing importance of food security and supply. By 1803, the members of the Lesmahagow Farmers' Club knew only full well the importance of "reclaiming land much worn out" by many decades of poor soil management. Perhaps, two centuries later, we should be warned that we may suddenly discover that we have so poisoned the streams and abused the soil that we have reached yet another watershed in connection with the ground. The socio-economic downside of ignoring valid environmental concerns might be an unpleasant surprise in the growing issue of food security -- perhaps both locally and globally. It is not so much "when the ground fails", but rather, that we have failed the ground.
From the Introduction to When The Ground Fails: An Economic Watershed