Landscape Ecology

, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp 691–702 | Cite as

Harvesting of leaf-hay shaped the Swedish landscape

  • Håkan Slotte
Article

Abstract

The hypothesis that the harvesting of leaf-hay was of great importance in agriculture and consequently had a substantial impact on deciduous forest areas is verified. The main sources are ethnological records collected from elderly informants, mainly between 1920 and 1940. At many farmsteads, leaf-hay was the main, and sometimes only, fodder used for sheep and goats. Information is presented from different districts in Sweden on the number of leaf-sheaves normally harvested at farmsteads and consumed during winter per goat and sheep (the median is 200). It is estimated that nearly 200 million leaf-sheaves were consumed annually by sheep and goats in Sweden around 1850. Horses, cattle and swine were also given leaf-hay, but the amount consumed has not been estimated because of poorer sources. The harvested quantity indicates that the greater part of the Swedish deciduous forest landscape in populated areas was exploited in the 19th century; at least one million hectares of land covered by deciduous trees were exploited. In forested areas, most of the leaf-hay was harvested on outland, usually by felling trees. In plain areas in the southern half of Sweden, a larger part was harvested on the infields, where pollards were also more common. The use of leaf-hay declined during the 19th century Swedish agrarian revolution. During the first half of the 20th century, the practice was also abandoned in forested areas.

agricultural history deciduous forest fodder forest history human impact leaf-hay livestock 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Håkan Slotte
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Landscape Planning, UltunaSection of Agricultural HistoryUppsalaSweden

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