We digitized historical maps from the beginning of the 20th century over a 1652 km2 study area in southeastern Sweden, comparing it to modern-day land cover with a focus on valuable habitat types. Semi-natural grassland cover decreased by over 96 % in the study area, being largely lost to afforestation and silviculture. Grasslands on finer soils were more likely to be converted into modern grassland or arable fields. However, in addition to remaining semi-natural grassland, today’s valuable deciduous forest and wetland habitats were mostly grazed grassland in 1900. An analysis of the landscape-level biodiversity revealed that plant species richness was generally more related to the modern landscape, with grazing management being a positive influence on species richness.

A typical picture from Sörmland where much of the landscape that was open 100 years ago today is lost to afforestation. Photo Sara Cousins
A typical picture from Sörmland where much of the landscape that was open 100 years ago today is lost to afforestation. Photo Sara Cousins


Read the whole article in Ambio here:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13280-014-0585-9