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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Continuity forest or second-generation forest? Historic aerial photos provide evidence of early clear-cutting in northern Sweden

Lundmark, Hanna; Ostlund, Lars; Josefsson, Torbjorn

Abstract

Modern forestry, which mainly consists of clear-cutting, is one of the most important factors influencing today's boreal forests. In Sweden, the breaking point for modern forestry is generally considered to be around 1950. Recently, our common knowledge of the implementation of clear-cutting in Sweden has increased, and new research indicates that clear-cutting systems were already applied before the 1950s. In this case study, we used aerial photographs from the 1940s to analyze the extent of contemporaneous clear-cuts and even-aged young forests in an area in northern Sweden. Our results show that almost 40% of the study area had already been clear-cut by the end of the 1940s, but also that clear-cutting had been applied to 10% of the forest land in the early 1900s. This implies that the historical development of forestry in northern Sweden is more complex than previously thought, and that certain proportions of the forest land were already second-generation forests in the 1950s. Our results have implications for the use of concepts such as "continuity forest", suggesting that this concept should employ a time frame of at least 100 years.

Keywords

aerial photography; clear-cutting; clear-felling; continuous cover forestry; forest history; satellite image

Published in

Silva Fennica
2021, Volume: 55, number: 1, article number: 10460Publisher: FINNISH SOC FOREST SCIENCE-NATURAL RESOURCES INST FINLAND