The genesis of two Picea-Cladina forests in northern Sweden
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Greger Hornberg; Lars Ostlund; Olle Zackrisson; Ingela Bergman
Publication Year: 1999

Cataloging Information

  • boreal forest
  • Cladina spp.
  • disturbance regime
  • fire
  • forest structure
  • lichen
  • Picea spp.
  • Sweden
  • wildlife habitat
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: January 19, 2016
FRAMES Record Number: 4321


In northern Fennoscandia a rare forest type, characterized by Cladina [Cladonia] spp. (lichens) and Picea abies, occurs on dry productive sites outside the range of permafrost but close to the Scandes mountains. The history of vegetation development and disturbance was determined of 2 such forests in the Jokkmokk region of northern Sweden, to test the hypothesis that this forest type has a natural origin. The study used a combination of several retrospective vegetation history and archaeological methods including pollen analysis, analysis of macroscopic charcoal, dendroecological data, written historical sources, maps and ancient remains. The results suggest that the Picea-Cladonia forests investigated are not the products of purely natural factors. Under the influence of harsh climatic conditions and anthropogenic impact, mainly by repeated fires, grazing, trampling and probably also selective felling of Pinus, mixed coniferous forests, dominated by feather mosses and dwarf shrubs, may have evolved into the Picea-Cladonia type. Repeated anthropogenic use of fire, already established c. 2000 yr ago, may have been used to create lichen-dominated areas, initially to attract game but later to improve winter grazing resources for reindeer. This finding contradicts the general view that Saami nomads did not use fire to alter forest vegetation.

Hornberg, G.; Ostlund, L.; Zackrisson, Olle; Bergman, I. 1999. The genesis of two Picea-Cladina forests in northern Sweden. Journal of Ecology 87(5): 800-814.