Main content area

Farming and forest dynamics in an agriculturally marginal area of southern Sweden, 5000 BC to present: a palynological study of Lake Avegöl in the Småland Uplands

Lageras, Per
TheHolocene 1996 v.6 no.3 pp. 301-314
Picea, Ulmus, forest dynamics, grains, grazing, highlands, lakes, land use, landscapes, meadows, palynology, pastures, plants (botany), pollen, pollen analysis, reforestation, sand, shifting cultivation, wood, Sweden
The study focuses on the environmental history of the higher parts of the Småland Uplands, southern Sweden. Pollen analysis was conducted on gyttja from the small lake Avegöl, and an absolute chronology established based on AMS dates of terrestrial plant macrofossils. The area has been used for grazing from 3900 cal. BC to present, but cultivation of cereals was not introduced until c. 300 cal. BC. There have been two major periods of open landscape, cal. AD 0-500 and cal. AD 1300-c. 1900. The first period was characterized by pastures and shifting cultivation in both till and sand areas. The second period was characterized by pastures, meadows, permanent arable fields and slash-and-burn cultivation, and it was mainly restricted to till areas. Cal. AD 500-1000 was a period of regression and reforestation, when extensive wood pasturage was the only agrarian land-use practised in the area. All dramatic environmental changes, except for the spruce invasion AD 900-1100, are assigned to agricultural land-use, while some slow and gradual changes are explained as the combined effect of land-use and natural processes. The classical Ulmus decline at c. 4000 cal. BC is not detected in the pollen diagram, but there is a significant decline in Ulmus dated to 2800-2600 cal. BC.