In recognition of the different physical and socio-economic characteristics across the regions, the European Union introduced the Less Favoured Area (LFA) designation to support farming where production conditions are difficult. The criteria for LFA designation were first established in European legislation in 1975 (Directive 75/268 EEC and accompanying measures). There are 3 types of LFA's; all in Scotland fall into the category of simple LFA's marked by poor soils and low agricultural income. Scotland's LFA's are defined by: (i) The presence of poor land of poor productivity, which is difficult to cultivate and with a limited potential which cannot be increased except at excessive cost, and which is mainly suitable for extensive livestock farming. (ii) lower than average production, compared to the main indices of economic performance in agriculture. (iii) a low or dwindling population predominantly dependent on agricultural activity, the accelerated decline of which could cause rural depopulation
The fragile area dataset was digitised in 1998 on behalf of the Agriculture Department. There is no defintion of 'fragile' land for the context of this dataset. A fragility index has been applied to the LFA designation since 2003. This is part of the payment mechanism for lfass, it is set at parish level and changes from year to year. It is not known whether the fragile land and fragility index are linked.