Within the chosen timeframe of this project ranging from the onset of Neolithic (in Sweden some 6000 years ago), it is quite well known that major changes in land-use have occurred. Deliberate removal of forests, achieved by cutting or fire, has been one of the most significant ways in which humans have modified the environment. Less well known are the environmental effects of historical changes in land-use, especially when it comes to the ecosystem response in coastal and open parts of the Baltic Sea.
The overarching aim of this proposed project is to disentangle the long-term role of human impact (through the periods of expansion, colonization, deforestation versus the periods of recession, retreat, reforestation) and natural driven processes (e.g. earlier climate change and isostatic uplift) to determine the mutual significance of the multiple stressors resulting in events of hypoxia in the Baltic Sea.
The geographical focus is put on the Baltic Sea coastal zone in order to investigate how the ecosystem has responded to changes in land-use, as well as the other way around; how humans responded to changes in the configuration of the landscape (e.g. shifting shorelines).
Our study is multidisciplinary and has a unique combination of expertise in both Earth Science and Archaeological Landscape analyze. Methodologically we will focus on a couple of specific small scale Baltic coastal sites chosen carefully from a combination of these two perspectives. The practical fieldwork and the sampling strategy will be a combination of our joint experience from paleoecology and maritime archaeology. Selected area for the case study is Gamlebyviken in the Tjust area, situated in the province of Småland, a rural coastal area exceptionally rich regarding prehistoric remains from different periods, and with a topography which makes it a very well suited place for this kind of study.
We also believe that the historical development of the selected case study area is representative for many similar areas around the Baltic Sea. Our results can thus be extrapolated and used regionally. The results will be used to obtain an overall picture of environmental change through time, important to consider when aiming for sustainable environmental governance of the whole Baltic Sea. Through our proposed multidisciplinary research strategy, we take a novel holistic approach which will lead to a more integrated view on natural variation, climate change, human impact and adaptation through time.