Ellen Johanne Svalheim

Research Scientist

(+47) 452 10 350


Visiting address
Reddalsveien 215, 4886 Grimstad


Semi-natural hay meadows are among the most species-rich habitats in Norway as well as in Europe. To maintain the biodiversity of hay meadows, it is important to understand local management regimes and the land use history that has shaped them and their biodiversity. There is however a general erosion of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), related to hay meadows and other semi-natural habitats. This review aims to examine historical and written sources of land use practices related to hay meadows and to discuss the implications of a re-introduction of TEK in present and future management practices. Traditional land use practices and TEK obtained from written sources from four Norwegian regions and for the country as a whole are compared with present management practices. Written sources show that hay meadows have been managed in a complex but flexible way. Today's management regimes of hay meadows in Norway are streamlined and strongly simplified, most often involving only one late mowing and in some cases grazing. This simplification may result in loss of biodiversity. The potential to include more variety of management practices in hay meadows, by utilizing knowledge from written sources more systematically in combination with farmers’ experienced knowledge (TEK) should be better utilized. Such an approach may secure both the biodiversity in hay meadows and TEK for the future. Former and present landscape ecological contexts in the infield-outlying land system show that management should be done for larger landscapes rather than small, isolated hay meadows, to optimize biodiversity conservation. For this study, we conducted a Norwegian literature review, based on ethnographical and ethnobotanical sources, as well as historical and present agricultural statistics, historical maps, results from research projects, and other sources. Our findings are discussed with similar European studies focusing on the historical management of hay meadows.