Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)
Doctoral thesis, 2010

Reindeer herding and modern forestry : the historical impacts on forests of two main land users in northern Sweden

Berg, Anna


Forestry and reindeer herding are the two geographically most extensive forms of forest utilisation throughout the northern parts of Sweden today. Until the 18th century the interior parts of northern Sweden were predominately occupied by native Sami people. From the mid-18th century the area was rapidly colonized by farmers. In the late 19th century forestry, first in the form of high-grading of the larger trees and later as sustainable forest management, was introduced to the vast inland forests of northern Sweden. The overall aims of this thesis were to characterise and analyze different aspects of the effects of reindeer herding and modern forestry on the forest ecosystem in inland northernmost Sweden in the past, up to present time, and their consequent effects on each other. Two aspects have been of particular interest: (i) the effects of the practice by reindeer herders to cut trees to feed their reindeer with arboreal lichens, and (ii) the effects of modern forestry practices on forests important for reindeer winter grazing. The investigations have been based on a combination of field surveys, dendrochronological analysis, analysis of historical records including maps and forest surveys, and landscape analysis. The main findings of this thesis are 1) cutting of lichen trees for reindeer fodder have been a widespread and important practice up until the beginning of the 20th century. Scots pine and Norway spruce trees with abundant lichen cover were cut, and the practise were performed for different purposes, including emergency feeding during harsh winters and to gather the reindeers during movements. 2) Early forestry (logging of larger trees in old sparse forests) did not adversely affect winter grazing conditions for reindeer. 3) The fragmentation of the forest landscape and the use of various forestry measures greatly accelerated with the introduction of clear-cutting in the mid-20th century and this have had a predominantly negative influence on reindeer winter grazing areas. The overall conclusion is that forestry has mainly had negative influence on reindeer herding, especially since the mid-20th century. Despite this, reindeer herding have been able to adjust to major changes in overall land-use during the last few centuries. Historical information, preferably achieved from a combination of several methods, provide a background for the current land-use conflicts in reindeer herding areas and give important insights into longer trends of ecosystem changes.


reindeer; animal husbandry; forestry; forest management; history; lichenes; sweden

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2010, number: 2010:45
ISBN: 978-91-576-7458-6
Publisher: Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Forest Science

    Permanent link to this page (URI)