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Research article2005Peer reviewed

Carved trees in grazed forests in boreal Sweden - analysis of remaining trees, interpretation of past land-use and implications for conservation

Andersson R, Ostlund L, Lundqvist R


Culturally modified trees (CMTs) provide unique insights into traditional knowledge and uses of the forest ecosystems. In close relation to pre-industrial livestock herding in central Sweden, it was a custom to carve text and symbols on trees and use them as "notice boards" in the forest. The main aim of this study was to document and analyse remaining carved trees in a managed forest landscape of 160 km(2). The same area was surveyed twice, once in 1986 and once in 2003. 488 carved trees were documented and classified into legible themes that were interpreted in the light of past herding practices. Name was the most common theme, found in 85% of the carvings. Most of the carvings were made in the period from the 1750s until the early 1900s. The custom of carving on trees was closely related to important grazing areas and the need to establish rights to them. The main losses of carved trees nowadays are due to their natural death and decay as most of the carved trees are located in areas that are not targeted for management. A primary recommendation for preservation is therefore to continue documentation of the trees because of the noticeable deterioration in readability of the carvings

Published in

Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
2005, Volume: 14, number: 2, pages: 149-158
Publisher: SPRINGER

      SLU Authors

    • Andersson, Rikard

      • Department of Forest Vegetation Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Östlund, Lars

        • Department of Forest Vegetation Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Forest Science

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)