In consequence of variations in geology and soils, in climate, and in its wide extent in longitude, latitude and altitude, the Scandinavian mountain chain exhibits major variations in natural conditions. Nature is constantly influenced by processes that include both natural forces and human activity.
In the early 1990s, there was an intense media debate about current damage to the montane vegetation, which many believed they could observe.
In 1992, the World Wide Foundation for Nature, WWF, invited representatives of responsible authorities, reindeer-husbandry interests, voluntary conservation bodies and interested researchers to a conference, which, somewhat erroneously, came to be called the `Reindeer grazing conference', but which included a spectrum of factors that can affect the montane vegetation.
One result of this conference was that, in 1993, WWF initiated a research project, extending over several years, intended to provide information about temporal changes in montane vegetation.
Experimental areas distributed along the Swedish mountain chain were selected: the southernmost are on Fulufj#llet in Dalarna, and the nothernmost are ca. 15 km S of Tavvavuoma in Swedish Lapland. (Some placenames are given in modern North-Saamish spelling in Appendix 2) The vegetation types studied were Grass heath, Meadow with low herbs, Dry heath, Birch forest-heath type with lichens and Birch forest-heath with mosses. These cover all major montane areas and are important grazing areas for reindeer.
At all study sites, six adjacent plots were selected, half of which were fenced to deny access to larger herbivores, and half were left open for grazing by all herbivores. The composition of plant communities in the field, bottom and tree layer in plots was estimated in 1995-96, and re-estimated three to four years later.
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