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Research article2013Peer reviewedOpen access

Learning About the History of Landscape Use for the Future: Consequences for Ecological and Social Systems in Swedish Bergslagen

Angelstam, Per; Andersson, Kjell; Isacson, Maths; Gavrilov, Dmitri G.; Axelsson, Robert; Bäckström, Mattias; Degerman, Erik; Elbakidze, Marine; Kazakova-Apkarimova, Elena Yu; Sartz, Lotta; Sädbom, Stefan; Törnblom, Johan


Barriers and bridges to implement policies about sustainable development and sustainability commonly depend on the past development of social-ecological systems. Production of metals required integration of use of ore, streams for energy, and wood for bioenergy and construction, as well as of multiple societal actors. Focusing on the Swedish Bergslagen region as a case study we (1) describe the phases of natural resource use triggered by metallurgy, (2) the location and spatial extent of 22 definitions of Bergslagen divided into four zones as a proxy of cumulative pressure on landscapes, and (3) analyze the consequences for natural capital and society. We found clear gradients in industrial activity, stream alteration, and amount of natural forest from the core to the periphery of Bergslagen. Additionally, the legacy of top-down governance is linked to today's poorly diversified business sector and thus municipal vulnerability. Comparing the Bergslagen case study with other similar regions in Russia and Germany, we discuss the usefulness of multiple case studies.


Environmental history; Forest; Water; Mining; Regional studies; Sustainable development

Published in

AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
2013, Volume: 42, number: 2, pages: 146-159
Publisher: SPRINGER