Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 1325–1336 | Cite as

The spatial and temporal change of cropland in the Scandinavian Peninsula during 1875–1999

Original Article


Land use and land cover change (LUCC) has emerged as an important issue of global change with significant influences on the geochemical cycle and regional climate change. Understanding the historical changes of land use and analyzing the environmental effects of LUCC make such reconstructions important. Based on historical statistics, this article reconstructs cropland area at the municipality level (härad/kommun) in the Scandinavian Peninsula during 1875–1999. The total acreage of cropland increased 36.84 % during 1875–1930, kept stable during 1930–1950, and decreased 14.25 % during 1950–1999. The croplands of Sweden and Norway both increased before 1950 and changed in different ways during 1950–1999 when the cropland decreased by 19.79 % in Sweden but increased by 9.63 % in Norway. The counties in the south Scandinavian Peninsula owned most of the cropland, with a cropland proportion of over 20 %, and experienced relatively obvious cropland changes. Growth centers with a rate of increase of over 5 % during 1875–1910 were found in Skåne, Stockholm, the Uppsala counties in Sweden, and the area around Oslo county in Norway. The general cropland distribution showed almost no change during this period, which mainly reflects the suitability of the natural conditions for agriculture. Multi-social factors co-impacted land use activities and induced temporal and spatial variations of the cropland. These factors included food supply, world trade, wars, agriculture policies, the economic and political environment, urbanization, and national differences. Compared with the widely used global land use dataset Historical Database of the Global Environment (HYDE), this study shows different cropland change curves before 1950. This article is a case study showing that the hindcasting model of the HYDE dataset has difficulty estimating multi-determined cropland change in the Scandinavian Peninsula, and the empirical study contributes to the improvement of the accuracy of historical land use data at the regional level.


Land cover changes Historical cultivation Empirical record Scandinavian Peninsula 



This work was supported by Grant no. 2010CB950103 under the China Global Change Research Program, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 40901099) and the Fund of China Scholarship Council. Thanks is expressed to the Norwegian Social Science Data Services for providing the data of the NSD kommunedatabase.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bei-Bei Li
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ulf Jansson
    • 2
  • Yu Ye
    • 3
  • Mats Widgren
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Languages and CulturesNanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of Human GeographyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  3. 3.School of GeographyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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