Landscape Ecology

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 403–418

Changes in mixed deciduous forests of boreal Sweden 1866–1999 based on interpretation of historical records


  • Anna-Lena Axelsson
    • The National Board of Forestry
  • Lars Östlund
    • Department of Forest Vegetation EcologySwedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Erik Hellberg
    • Department of Forest Vegetation EcologySwedish University of Agricultural Sciences

DOI: 10.1023/A:1021226600159

Cite this article as:
Axelsson, A., Östlund, L. & Hellberg, E. Landscape Ecol (2002) 17: 403. doi:10.1023/A:1021226600159


Current knowledge of patterns and abundance of deciduous trees in thepre-industrial landscape of boreal Sweden is limited. This is due to a dramatictransformation of the forest landscape during the last 100 years and the lackofrepresentative forest reserves. We used historical records to study change infive mixed deciduous forests between 1866 and 1999. The results show that largechanges occurred due to complex interactions between fire disturbance, firesuppression, logging and silviculture. Before fire suppression, the presence ofdeciduous trees was mainly determined by earlier fire influence. Laterselectivelogging disturbed natural succession and favoured regeneration of deciduoustrees. During the 20th century deciduous trees were removed bygirdling, thinning and herbicide spraying. Much of the mixed deciduous standschanged to coniferous stands between 1906–15 and 1969–70, and thendeciduous trees were totally removed from these stands between late 1960s and1999. Today mixed deciduous forest occurs mainly in young stands and on othersites than previously. Our results also show that large coniferous trees andmulti-aged forest occurred in all sites in the early 1900s. Most sites weredominated by coniferous species and forest dominated by deciduous treesoccurredonly in smaller areas. These results are not consistent with the current viewthat deciduous-dominated forest occupied substantial areas in boreal Swedenbefore fire suppression. Appropriate changes in forest management arediscussed,as is the value of historical data in interpreting changes in forestlandscapes.

BorealDeciduous treesFireForest historyForest managementLand-use historyLoggingRegenerationRestorationSuccession

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002