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Research article2008Peer reviewed

A century of logging and forestry in a reindeer herding area in northern Sweden

Berg, Anna; Ostlund, Lars; Moen, Jon; Olofsson, Johan


Boreal forest ecosystems are generally highly sensitive to logging and other forestry activities. Thus, commercial forestry has had major effects on the forests and landscape structure in northern Sweden since the middle of the 19th Century, when it rapidly extended across the region. Lichens (which constitute up to 80% of reindeer forage in winter and early spring) have often been amongst the most severely affected ecosystem components. The overall aim of the present study was to analyze how forestry has influenced the potential supply of ground-growing lichens as winter forage for the reindeer in this region over the past ca. 100 years. For this purpose, we analysed changes in forest and stand structure in Scots pine-dominated (Pinus sylvestris L) reindeer wintering areas in the southern part of the county Norrbotten (covering ca. 58,000 ha) using detailed historical forest inventories and management plans. We found that the amount of the forest types considered potentially good pasture (mainly middle-aged and old pine forests) decreased during the first part of the 20th Century. However, the quality of grazing grounds was improved by forestry during this time mainly because selective logging made the forests more open which benefits lichen growth. During the last part of the 20th century forestry impaired the quality of grazing grounds in several ways, e.g. by clear-cutting and intensified use of various silvicultural measures. We conclude that ca. 30-50% of the winter grazing grounds have been lost in the study area because of intensive forest management during the last century. The spatially precise historical information about the affects of forestry on lichen pasture provided in this study can be used to direct forest management which will facilitate and promote reindeer herding in the future. (c) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Cladina; reindeer pasture; forest history; forest structure; multiple use management

Published in

Forest Ecology and Management
2008, Volume: 256, number: 5, pages: 1009-1020