Historical human influence on forest composition and structure in boreal Fennoscandia
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Torbjörn Josefsson; Björn Gunnarson; Lars Liedgren; Ingela Bergman; Lars Ostlund
Publication Year: 2010

Cataloging Information

  • archaeological sites
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • conservation
  • decay
  • decomposition
  • dendrochronology
  • diameter classes
  • disturbance
  • Europe
  • fire management
  • fire scar analysis
  • forest management
  • heavy fuels
  • histories
  • land use
  • light
  • pine
  • pine forests
  • Pinus sylvestris
  • Scots pine
  • size classes
  • snags
  • Sweden
  • wildfires
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: May 8, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 48772
Tall Timbers Record Number: 24983
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals - C
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


In studies on natural dynamics, biodiversity and reference conditions legacies of preindustrial human land use are often neglected. In this study, using archaeology and dendrochronology combined with field surveys on present forest characteristics, we assessed the naturalness of a protected forest landscape and examined the role of indigenous peoples in shaping forest structure in the past. Our results show that the studied Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forest conforms to the generally accepted impression of pristine forests and that it has a long history of human utilization. Areas with human presence over long time periods, especially in and near settlements, show significant differences in current forest characteristics compared with the rest of the landscape: the forest is younger (mean age 140-190years compared with >300 years), the volumes of deadwood lower (8-13m3·ha-1 compared with >20 m3·ha-1), and the tree species composition is substantially different from the surrounding forest. We suggest that these disparities are strongly linked to past land use and that indigenous people can alter ecosystems substantially and that the legacies of their activity may last for centuries. Consequently, in ecological research and conservation strategies, forest characteristics should always be considered in the light of their historical context. © 2010 National Research Council of Canada, NCR Research Press. Abstract reproduced by permission.

Online Link(s):
Josefsson, T., B. Gunnarson, L. Liedgren, I. Bergman, and L. Ostlund. 2010. Historical human influence on forest composition and structure in boreal Fennoscandia. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, v. 40, no. 5, p. 872-884. 10.1039/X10-033.