Forest History as a Basis for Ecosystem Restoration—A Multidisciplinary Case Study in a South Swedish Temperate Landscape


Address correspondence to M. Lindbladh, email


Basic knowledge of the previous forest types or ecosystem present in an area ought to be an essential part of all landscape restoration. Here, we present a detailed study of forest and land use history over the past 2,000 years, from a large estate in southernmost Sweden, which is currently undergoing a restoration program. In particular, the aim was to identify areas with long continuity of important tree species and open woodland conditions. We employed a multidisciplinary approach using paleoecological analyses (regional and local pollen, plant macrofossil, tree ring) and historical sources (taxation documents, land surveys, forest inventories). The estate has been dominated by temperate broad-leaved trees over most of the studied period. When a forest type of Tilia, Corylus, and Quercus started to decline circa 1,000 years ago, it was largely replaced by Fagus. Even though extensive planting of Picea started in mid-nineteenth century, Fagus and Quercus have remained rather common on the estate up to present time. Both species show continuity on different parts of the estate from eighteenth century up to present time, but in some stands, for the entire 2,000 years. Our suggestions for restoration do not aim for previous “natural” conditions but to maintain the spatial vegetational pattern created by the historical land use. This study gives an example of the spatial and temporal variation of the vegetation that has historically occurred within one area and emphasizes that information from one methodological technique provides only limited information about an area’s vegetation history.