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Betesmarker, djurantal och betestryck 1620-1850

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  • Dahlström, Anna

Abstract

Compared to the past situation (the pre-industrial agriculture) there are only small fractions of semi-natural grasslands today in the Swedish landscape. These grasslands, and their biodiversity, are the result of a long management history. Therefore, grassland biodiversity should be favoured by management that is as similar as possible to traditional management regimes. The aim of this thesis is to produce historical knowledge, which can contribute to the formation of management methods that favours biodiversity in Swedish semi-natural pastures. This is possible due to Sweden's richness in historical documents. The grazing pressure was analysed in c. 70 hamlets in two plains and two upland regions, in south-central Sweden. The thesis has a quantitative and a qualitative part. Firstly, the stocking density (number of livestock units per hectare) was calculated for different hamlets and different time periods. The main historical sources used were cadastral maps from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, livestock tax registers from the 17th century and probate inventories from the 18th and 19th centuries. Secondly, the calculated stocking densities were interpreted in terms of grazing pressure (the relation between the demand for and supply of grazing fodder) through a mainly qualitative analysis, using additional historical sources. Outland grazing was common in all studied hamlets. The stocking density increased between 1620 and 1850 in at least two of the studied regions, less clearly in the two other regions. Whether an increased stocking density implied an increasing grazing pressure is hard to determine. Increasing stocking density could also have been connected to a decreasing tree cover in the outland (creating more light and grazing fodder). The intensified outland use could not be connected to one type of landscape since the clearly increased stocking density occurred in one plain and one upland area. The average grazing pressure was maximum 75 per cent (the proportion of the consumed grazing vegetation) in the early 17th century. With the assumption of a constant grazing pressure during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the tree cover in the outland was calculated to between 70 and 90 percent in the two forested regions, 50 to 80 percent in the two plains. Historical complexity caused a dynamic land-use in several temporal and spatial scales (differences between hamlets, short-term dynamics between years and within one season) causing a multitude of ecological niches many of which have disappeared. In a time scale from 1620 to 1950 the largest changes in land use and number of livestock, occurred after 1850, but grazing in forest (outland) was probably still common in the 1930's. Today, only 1 to 2 percent of the former pasture areas are still grazed in the studied sites.

Suggested Citation

  • Dahlström, Anna, 2006. "Betesmarker, djurantal och betestryck 1620-1850," Department of Economics publications 1269, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sua:ekonwp:1269
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