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Reconstructing past land use and vegetation patterns using palaeogeographical and archaeological data: A focus on grasslands in Nynas by the Baltic Sea in south-eastern Sweden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
2002 (English)In: Landscape and Urban Planning, ISSN 0169-2046, Vol. 61, no 1, 1-18 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Past landscape characteristics were reconstructed in Nynas, south-eastern Sweden, using geographical and archaeological data together with pollen stratigraphy and an existing shore displacement model, with the aim to explore the development of semi-natural grasslands in the area. A 2.3 m peat core was analysed and radiocarbon dated at three levels. The pollen stratigraphy was estimated to start at approximately 3800 C-14 years before present (BP), at the end of Late Neolithic. Human activities are evident, from both archaeological findings and pollen analysis, for more than 4000 years. Grazing is apparent, possibly more intense around 3200 C-14 years BP, 2500-2600 C-14 years BP, 2100-2200 C-14 years BP, and 1300/1400 C-14 years BP to present day. From 1900+/-80 C-14 years BP and onwards cultivation is intensified at the same time as spruce (Picea abies) expands. Maps on land-cover distribution in the late 17th century was used as a model for the utilisation of the landscape during the Iron Age. Land-covers on very thin soils were grazed and sometimes mown within the village boundaries, but they were also used for cultivation in narrow strips where bedrock is adjacent to clays. Till and varved glacial clays would have been used for cultivation. A reasonable estimation is that 10% of the study area could have been used for cultivation 1900 C-14 years BP, compared to 28% in the end of the 17th century. During the last century there has been a shift towards more arable fields and more forestry. There are 10% open or semi-open grassland left today, and 6% wooded grassland, compared with 47% open or semi-open grassland in the 17th century. Little more than half of the open grasslands are managed today, all by grazing. It is argued that encroachment of trees and shrubs on open or semi-open grasslands will not only reduce species richness in the landscape but also threaten parts of our cultural heritage.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. Vol. 61, no 1, 1-18 p.
Keyword [en]
biodiversity, landscape history, land use change, pollen, Sweden
National Category
Environmental Sciences Physical Geography Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-90494DOI: 10.1016/S0169-2046(02)00065-8ISI: 000177819900001OAI: diva2:626633


Available from: 2013-06-10 Created: 2013-06-05 Last updated: 2013-06-10Bibliographically approved

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Cousins, Sara A. O.
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