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Traces of Past Sami Forest Use: An Ecological Study of Culturally Modified Trees and Earlier Land Use Within a Boreal Forest Reserve

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The Samis have been present in the Swedish boreal forest for a long time. Their land-use practices were dominant over vast tracts until the late nineteenth century, but little is known about their impact on forest ecosystems. In this study former land use around an old Sami settlement situated in a forest reserve was analysed through historical sources and field investigations. The area around the Sami settlement (about 2.5 ha) comprised young forest (mean age approximately 140 yrs) with little dead wood present. The forest outside this area was much older and contained more dead wood. Scars dating from 1721 to 1962 were found on 118 culturally modified trees, derived from bark-peeling practices and blazes for marking trails and borders. The patterns found constitute a characteristic Sami forest landscape, well distinguished from other types of forest use. The results may be used to identify such areas to preserve crucial structures for posterity.

Keywords: Bark-peeled trees; Sami settlement; dendroecology; forest history; indigenous forest use; scarred trees

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2003

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