Article by ESR Kailin Hatlestad published in Land
First published on 23 August 2021, the paper ‘Coping with Risk. A Deep-Time Perspective on Societal Responses to Ecological Uncertainty in the River Dalälven Catchment Area in Sweden’ by Kailin Hatlestad (ESR 2), Joakim Wehlin and Karl-Johan Lindholm was published in Land.
Abstract: In addressing the current climate crisis, research into how past societies have coped with risk and ecological uncertainty can provide old solutions to new problems. Here, we examine how human niche construction can be seen as risk management in the face of uncertainty by exploring the spatial patterning of land-use activities over time. Dalarna county, an agriculturally marginal boreal forest environment, provides the opportunity for addressing change in terms of agricultural responses and other activities. C14 archaeological records complied by Dalarna Museum were the base of this analysis. The spatial and temporal components of these Boreal Forest records were analyzed in the open-source software QGIS, guided by a historical ecology framework. Human niches diversified and intensified during specific periods in the Boreal forest environment; our focus has been on how humans managed resource risk related to the ecological uncertainty within this forest environment characterized by long winters and short growing seasons. We conclude that constructed niches shaped the Boreal Forest, spanning its environmentally unique upland and lowland regions, into a more predictable environment. Tracking the diversity, multi-functionality, and intensity of these past land-use activities can provide insights for best practices in land management, not only for the Boreal Forest area, but also for elsewhere. These insights will assist in policy-making decisions, as the methodology is adaptable and replicable for various landscapes.