Long-term land-use and landscape dynamics in Budalen, central Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionInternational Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management. 2012, 8 (4), 351-359. 10.1080/21513732.2012.723639
Humans have used resources in mountain landscapes for thousands of years, but the intensity and continuity of different land uses and the corresponding landscape changes are not well understood. This study examined long-term interactions between land use and landscapes in Budalen, central Norway, by using a multidisciplinary approach. Palaeoecological investigations at three sites in a north-south transect along the length of the valley indicate mowing and livestock grazing from AD 1500 to 1600. No clear signs of human-induced vegetation shifts are indicated at earlier time stages at the two southern sites. No archaeological findings support land use prior to AD 1500. Written sources give evidence for haymaking at AD 1600 and a more intense land use with summer farming followed in the eighteenth century. Land-use impact had a longer continuity at the northernmost site where furnaces for iron production and other human artefacts are dated as early as 180 BC–AD 25. These archaeological findings closely correspond to an opening of the woodland. We conclude that the intensity, diversity and continuity of land use decreased with increasing distance from permanent settlements in the lowland. The wooded grasslands probably dominated the Budalen valley also before humans started to use the land.