Traditional Farming Landscapes for Sustainable Living in Scandinavia and Japan: Global Revival Through the Satoyama Initiative


Traditional, pre-industrial farming was adapted to the natural environment—topography, geology, hydrology, climate, and biota. Traditional land use systems are still to be traced in Scandinavia as an “infield/outland landscape”, and in Japan as a “Satoyama landscape.” There are obvious similarities and differences in land use—the main difference being that pasturing of cattle and sheep has been less important in Japan. These land use systems can be traced back to early sedentary settlements 1500–2500 years ago. In both regions, traditional management almost ceased in the mid-twentieth century leading to afforestation and decreased biological diversity. Today, there is in Japan a growing movement for landscape restoration and promotion of a sustainable living countryside based on local agrarian and forestry production, local energy, tourism, etc. With this background, the so-called Satoyama Initiative has been organized and introduced as a global socio-ecological project with ecosystem services for human well-being.

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Berglund and Lagerås are deeply indebted to The International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) in Kyoto for the invitation to stay there during 1 month in the spring 2012. Berglund visited this institute even during 2005 and 2008. Our gratitude goes to the managing committee, the staff, and our colleagues, particularly Professor Yasuda and Dr. Kitagawa, now coauthors of this paper. Dr. Nasu Hiroo was an inspiring and helpful guide and colleague during the 2005 and 2008 visits. Furthermore, Professor Nakamura and Dr. Sasaki, also coauthors, organized stimulating excursions during 2012. Our studies in Japan have been supported by The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. We are also grateful for technical support from Thomas Persson at The Department of Geology, Lund University, and from Henrik Pihl at the Swedish National Heritage Board. We thank Nils Forshed for his generosity to include his artistic landscape reconstructions. Finally, we are grateful to Dr. Gina Hannon for linguistic corrections.

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Berglund, B.E., Kitagawa, J., Lagerås, P. et al. Traditional Farming Landscapes for Sustainable Living in Scandinavia and Japan: Global Revival Through the Satoyama Initiative. AMBIO 43, 559–578 (2014).

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  • Agrarian land use history
  • Satoyama landscape
  • Infield/outland
  • Nature restoration
  • Biodiversity changes
  • Deforestation history