Long-term history of land-use and vegetation at Ire, an agriculturally marginal area in Blekinge, south Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Pollen records from a small lake and a small peatland at Ire in northern Blekinge, Sweden, reveal that until A.D. 300 there was a mixed deciduous type of woodland dominated by Quercus, Tilia and Corylus, with Betula, Pinus, Populus, Fraxinus, Ulmus and Acer as important constituents. The first, but weak, signs of human influence on the vegetation are detected around 2300 B.C. At this time, the area was probably used for woodland grazing. The regional expansion of Fagus occurred around 100 B.C.-A.D. 200, and later, at about A.D. 500, woods dominated by Fagus were common in the area. Around A.D. 600-700 an isolated farmstead may have been established in the area, as single pollen grains of Secale (rye) were found. This farmstead may represent the first permanent settlement in the area. A more widespread opening of the vegetation occurred around A.D. 1000, probably as an effect of a more pronounced use of the area, and an expansion of settlements in the region. The openness of the area seems to have peaked around A.D. 1400-1800, and during this period the vegetation was highly fragmented with small stands of woodland, intensively grazed pastures, and arable fields where Secale and Triticum were mainly cultivated. Around A.D. 1600 Fagus pollen percentages sharply decrease, most probably caused by a deliberate and selective felling of beech trees for the production of potash, which consumed enormous amounts of wood. Picea seems to have been established around A.D. 1600, but it did not become a regional dominant until the first part of the 20th century, when land use decreased and it became favoured by forestry.


  • Leif Björkman
  • P Sjogren
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology


  • southern Sweden, outland, land-use, pollen analysis, woodland history
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-74
JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Publication categoryResearch