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This final chapter focuses on the landscape dimension of the farm-based land cover processes identified on the farms studied. As boreal lands have a tendency towards forest (re)growth, arable land stands for a holding back of forest. The persistent openness of arable land and forest clearance for arable use are both farm-based processes that disregard the options of field afforestation or forest renewal, respectively.

The interpretation of the farm backgrounds of these processes was discussed in the previous two chapters of Part C. In this chapter, I investigate

the implications of the farm-based findings for rural landscape change by reading persistent openness of arable land and forest clearance for arable use from the point of view of their surroundings, as displayed in the cases studied.

Landscape Change and Farmer Practices

The looks of a landscape are upheld, as discussed, by land use activities. In this section, I clarify how landscape change and farming practices interact. I look at this issue from the

perspective of a single field, a farm and a landscape in which the parcel and the farm are situated. On parcel level, an act of land cover change such as forest clearance for arable use is total. I reminded myself of this in field without having seen the transformation happening:

Field memo, Aug 2011: Land clearance is something tangible, and a happening: a moment ago this was forest, now an open field.

At farm level, such land cover change is partial:

the acreage of the original land cover type decreases and the new land cover type increases.

Correspondingly, the overall balance of land use classes on the farm estate and the farm domain shifts. Finally, in the landscape where the land subjected to change is located, the effect will be that of ‘opening up’ or ‘closing down’ (Fig. 56).

Clearing forest for arable use produces a new open field that is incorporated into the landscape; likewise, afforestation of a field closes down the vista. At any given point in time, a farmer who owns forest can choose to clear the land for arable use. The land cover change goes together with a shift from forestry practice to farming practice in order to manage the arable land. Similarly, at any moment a farmer has the choice either to sustain the openness of arable land by engaging in farming practice, or to discontinue and let the land revert to forest103. These kinds of choice affect the distribution of arable and forest land in the landscape around the parcel that is subjected to change. The open land area shrinks or extends (Fig. 56, arrows).

The land cover changes are accompanied by changes in the farmer’s occupation package(s).

Land cover change therefore has a time-economic dimension. Arable and (productive)

103 Arable land is also ’lost’ to other developments such as construction.

forest as land covers have different time demands.104 In a similar way to farming activities, forestry practice allows for a variety of time-regimes and imported farm-external time resources. Indeed, the intensity of forest management varies considerably between the land use farms. Some farmers actively engage with their forests, while others are simply

‘involved’ in planning the management of their forests, with the actual enactment being carried out by forestry specialists. A few farmers take their winter firewood from their forests by their own efforts. Forest management generally has a longer rhythm than the management of arable land: newly planted saplings need supervision and other measures; once the young trees are established, the next measures are due about twenty-five years later, then thirty-five years later, and so forth, with ‘tree harvest’ generally due after seventy to ninety years, or later.

Figure 56. Landscape Change and Farm Practice Arable land demands input much more often in comparison, having an annual rhythm. In other words, the choice between arable land and forest land is also about choosing between different time demands (and in the case of ‘passive’

104 Here I disregard the fact that forestry and farming additionally require suitable equipment, knowledge, etc.

reforestation, the time demanded by the land is even lower).

Landscape changes therefore appear in conjunction with changes in the farmer’s (to be more exact, somebody’s) set of occupation packages, and are brought about by such changes. The nested levels on which land cover change can be invested display the phenomenon of land cover change in rather different ways.

While the parcel is what is in a material sense transformed, the farm is the unit in which the activities that effect the transformation occur; in other words, the farm is at the background of parcel-level land cover changes. Landscape change therefore consists of discrete temporally and spatially irregular land cover transformations; a fact that does not mean that typicality or patterning of changes is non-existent, rather it means that chosen approaches play a large role in what kind of changes can be recorded.

Socio-Spatial Rural Landscape

The rural landscape is made up of a composite of land covers and farm domains105, and can be described as a socio-spatial phenomenon; a schematic illustration clarifies this (Fig. 57). The landscape in this simplified model consists of a stretch of open arable land surrounded by forest land on two sides. The most basic, and essential point here is that the three farm domains are not coextensive with the two land cover types displayed in the illustration, around which this study revolves. Landholder A owns land at two

105 Taken strictly the rural landscape is composed of land covers and farm estates. Here I take the step further to consider farm domains, it does however not make any significant difference to the argument here whether ‘farm estate’ or ‘farm domain’ is chosen.

locations, mostly forest but also some open land.

Similarly, landholder B has land in two places: as can be seen, this is a farmer with quite a lot of arable land and some forest, with one unit of land held separately (perhaps on lease) and only consisting of arable land. Landholder C only manages arable land, which is partially locked in between lands managed by landholder B.

Figure 57. Landscape as a Socio-Spatial Phenomenon A change in land cover at parcel level on any of these individual farm domains will be of an individual size; such changes will also be enacted with varying frequency. Landholder A might choose to afforest the little arable land area, which would ‘close-down’ the openness of the stretch of open land; or landholder C might purchase some adjacent forest land from landholder A to clear it for arable use, which would ‘open-up’ the landscape. If landholder B decided to afforest his larger area of arable land (in the middle of the figure), the landscape change would be more dramatic. The degree of change displayed at landscape level represents an emerging property that can most easily be captured in retrospect, since the current farm domain structure complicates the translation of parcel-level or farm-level land cover changes to landscape changes. The farm domains are often spatially fragmented as management units; they may include both owned land and land managed under various kinds of lease conditions (see chapter B2, section Fragmentation and distances). Therefore, my approach in the rest of the chapter is to elaborate formally on the

locations of land cover changes and farm-based processes in interaction.

Landscape Dimension of Farm-based Land-Cover Processes

Landscape dimension of Persistent Land Management

The findings from the land use farms convey a picture of persistent land cover. In this section, I look at the continuity and stability from the landscape perspective. During the research period, new fields have not been cleared nor have existing fields been afforested, but for the few cases reported (see chapter B4). What did happen during the research period was that a considerable number of landholders withdrew from active engagement with their land, due to retirement or a switch to farm-external employment. Such withdrawal from active engagement with the land appears to have no more than a limited impact on the land cover;

the land is managed in the same way as before, as one interviewee put it. Conversely, land management is often in the hands of an ‘active’

farmer as leaseholder.

The effect of the land-cover continuity in farm-level is preservation of the mosaic landscape character. It produces continuity on both farm and landscape level. Beneath the ‘surface’ of land-cover continuity, the arable fields have moved from one farm domain into another, from the landholders’ domain to the leaseholders’ domain: The withdrawal from farming is about retiring to the lands of the owned territory, relaxing any existing lease agreements, subsequently letting the farm domain shrink until it is basically co-extensive with the open yard around the farmstead only.

According to Stenseke (1997), leasehold arrangements conserve existing land cover, which

is what I, too, observed on the land use farms. In general, one can expect such conservation of arable use on land held on lease, because afforestation or passive reforestation would violate the lease agreement (where a formal agreement is in place). As previous discussed, the

‘keeping open’ of the land or the landscape is one of the objectives when land is leased out.

This means that, unless it comes under a new lease agreement, the situation for arable land that has been returned to the landholder’s management is more insecure than the situation for land that is leased out by a farmer withdrawing from active land management.

While the farmers on the land use farms often refer to the openness of arable land as being under threat of reforestation, in retrospect and from an external viewpoint it appears on the contrary to be stable. This connects to the landholders’ commitment to preserve the openness of arable fields and to the various solutions conceived such as less intensive modes of haymaking and animal husbandry, as well as the variety of formal and non-farmalized management agreements displayed. I have explained this commitment to continued land management as rooted in the values perceived in the arable land. The stable land cover situation pre-supposes the existence of a specific neighbourhood setting in which a symbiotic co-existence of retiring, thus contracting, and expanding farmers is possible, providing all parties with benefits: the ‘keep the landscape open’ project is only possible if ‘somebody’ can take over the management of the land, this

‘somebody’ being a farmer engaged in agricultural production. The degree of activity naturally varies: the cases encountered in this study, for example, include a farm with a very small herd of cattle (see Fig. 13, Farm Domain A) and a farm with a large herd (see Fig. 11).

Figure 58. Land Management as a Neighbourhood Process

The farmers running larger agricultural enterprises take care of the open land over a far larger radius than their own land ownership would imply. By way of example, the arable land managed by two larger-scale farmers is shown together mapped according to its factual spatial location (Fig. 58). Together these two farmers

manage the fields on twenty-three farm estates including their own; the one of them holds management agreements with fifteen landholders and the other with six other landholders. Many of the agreements concern the management of

“all arable land” (contract details derived from the farmer interview). Through their land

management these two ‘active’ farmers contribute to the ‘reproduction’ of the open landscape, as the example shows, while also assisting the withdrawing landholders’ farm projects by keeping the fields under management.

Landscape Dimension of Farm-based Forest Clearance

When land is cleared for arable use, open areas are created or expand. In this section, based on the analysis of the on-farm placing of clearings, I go on to discuss how the clearings affect the distribution of open land in the landscape (for a description of the clearings see Where to Place New Land?). The arable land area expands in the main at the forest/arable land border; in only three of the cases studied this interface is

‘created’ by a placement of the clearing ‘in the forest’; the other clearings are placed adjacent to arable fields, i.e. expand the existing openness of the landscape. The examples given below show the placement of clearings in their surroundings in two types of landscape: a forest-dominated landscape and a semi-open landscape.

In the forest-dominated landscape around the farm CF 9 the clearings expand the arable land area close to the farmstead (Fig. 59, see also Farm Land Map Farm CF 9, Appendix V).

These clearings are placed adjacent to arable land. In addition, the southern clearing is placed side-by-side with earlier clearings (accomplished some ten to fifteen years ago), which lie to the south and west (Fig. 46). The current clearance project continues to open up this part of the landscape and to ‘gather’ the open land more and more in proximity to the farmstead; in the area depicted, arable land belonging to other farm domains provides additional openness together with the openness of a lake. The arable land gained is needed due to a planned increase in livestock that aims at providing farming

income to the sons of the family, too. The land cover change expresses a commitment to the cattle project on the farm as a way of earning a living.

Figure 59. Clearance in a Forested Landscape, Farm CF 9 Symbols used: forest (green), open land (yellow), clearance (orange), water areas (blue), farmstead (encircled), other farm houses (black dots).

The map has been generalised to match the scale, but displays correctly the distribution of forest land also towards the west.

In another forested landscape, around the farm CF 1, two recent clearings were undertaken as part of plans to increase the number of dairy cows in order to be able to employ a farm worker, as there is a need for supplementary time input on the farm. These clearings are located in direct adjacency to the farmstead (Fig. 49) and extend the existing open area. The clearings express a commitment to a farm project with cattle; in this, the specified need for more time resources has, at least in part, to do with the getting-older of the farmer couple, according to my interpretation of what was said and of the farm circumstances.

In both cases, the land cover change occurs in connection with, and prior to the implementation of, a planned production increase: the landscape is ‘opened-up’ in response to plans and hopes for increased

income. This can be compared with the statement of one farmer who said that first one acquires more land, and then one can increase the livestock; this can be seen as a matter of obvious common sense, but it also leads to the interesting landscape effect of things manifesting before the goal that motivates the actions can be reached. In other words, following Hägerstrand (2009), any goal can only be reached when the material configuration of things has reached the goal-situation, to which it corresponds.

On both farms, there is a clearing in the forest, too. The farmer in the first example is considering letting this patch revert to forest.

The farmer in the second example answered my question as to whether this field would be afforested by saying, “Not yet” (farmer interview), indicating that the field was still useful to him in its open state but that its future might be insecure. The background to my question was that this particular clearance project was originally anticipated to continue onto neighbouring land, this plan was dropped after having accomplished the first clearing as land became available otherwise. My conclusion is that newly cleared land may risk reforestation, if changes occur in its background (the farm situation). I also argue in this study that the inclusion of land into the totality of the farm (project) is crucial. Therefore, newly cleared land also may risk reforestation for as long as the field has not become incorporated into the farm project, that is to say, before its embedded value as an accomplishment, established by continued engagement have started to form.

In the semi-open landscape, a clearing might remove one of the last patches of forest, as is the case in the following two farm examples (Farm Land Map Farm CF 6, Appendix V; Clearance in a Semi-Open Landscape, Farm Example CF 7, Appendix V, p. 220). These clearings are located adjacent to existing arable land, and

connect with the neighbouring parcel to form a single field without partitions (Fig. 60).

Figure 60. Arable Plain with Recent Clearing (right) and an Arable field, Farm CF 11

The new arable fields thus generate even wider open spaces. When I visited these sites, at first nothing revealed that one part of the land had been forested until very recently; it was only when I studied the soil more closely that the pieces of root or cut wood indicated recent clearing. Although the clearings are located fairly near the farmsteads, the farmers describe their placement in both cases as having been determined by what can be seen expressing the what-fits-where principle, rather than seeking to shorten distances by concentrating land near the farmstead: “The forest didn't really do well there”

(farmer interview), “the soil isn't that good for forest” (farmer interview). In addition, the clearings are about optimising the tilling movements by reshaping a corner and by creating larger continuous tilling spaces. These clearings express sustained commitment to a farm project directed towards arable production.

The opening-up of the landscape that occurs in all these four examples, and in the other clearance projects studied, ensues from the existence of active agricultural enterprises which, though not necessarily large-scale and full-time,

feature farmers actively engaging with the land.

Owing to the interaction of time and land use activities, land cover changes may accommodate or deliberately target a reorganisation of the time allocation on the farm, as many of the clearance projects studied suggest. Given that farmers seek to manage the farm domain in such a way that arable land is gathered together and placed as close to the farm centre as possible, this leads from the landscape perspective to an agglomeration of arable land on the farm domain, creating larger areas of openness. Forest land, especially at the forest-arable land interface near the farm centre, can be seen to be instable due to the process leading to the opening-up of such areas.

Landscape Neighbourhoods

The placement of clearings near the farmstead does not mean abandonment of fields farther off, as far as the farmer accounts convey. Such land is either kept under the farmer's own management or offered in exchange as a move of domain management. Only one farmer mentioned termination of a lease agreement as a direct effect of clearance (farm CF 9); another relaxed a lease agreement as one move together with a land exchange and land clearance (farm CF 7). A third farmer (farm CF 10), when explaining the clearings on the farm, referred to the insecurity of lease arrangements; due to the clearing, he would be less dependent on leasing. In the other clearance farm interviews, connections of this kind were not mentioned. The case of the farm CF 9 supports the finding by Stenseke (1994) that adding new land to the farm domain may render existing fields peripheral due to alterations in the distribution of managed land, but the others do not. A reason for this difference between findings might lie in differing surrounding situations. Evidence from the farms suggests that the neighbourhood configuration

influences land cover processes. Especially when several agricultural enterprises share location in a neighbourhood, land takes on the character of a scarce resource. The farmers interviewed on clearance farms often mentioned land shortage, which they said was in part the result of land being withheld from access due to ‘passive’


Land cover changes or other moves of domain management can represent a solution to such neighbourhood situation with ‘locked lands’.

Shortage of land also renders forest land instable in such landscapes. Such landscape neighbourhoods can be characterized as a blend of active and ‘passive’ farmers. They contain farmer situations and farm projects whose combined effect is that land does not come to circulation (in the sense of being offered for lease or sale). The farmer on the farm CF 4 relates that landholders are reluctant to lease out or sell to neighbours, and consequently many of his farmer colleagues are required to cover large distances to reach fields they hold on lease. This leads the farmers actively engaged in an agricultural enterprise to conduct a “land reform of their own” (farmer interview) by exchanging lands with each other in order to reorganize their management units (see also Moving, Placing and Gathering Land). Additional evidence for this kind of constraining neighbourhood configuration comes from the farm CF 2. This farmer describes the farmstead and the fields closest to it as “locked in between EU farmers who close off all development” (farmer interview); as a dairy farmer, he is dependent on access to grazing land directly adjacent to the farmstead.

This farmer can therefore see no possibility for a production increase in the dairy part of the enterprise in the longer term, for as long as the situation remains unchanged. The farmer describes single fields around his farm domain:

“Yes, the forest has started growing back on that patch, and this part, too, was cultivated before (…). It really all depends on how the various owners look at it [the land]” (farmer interview).

The farmer described in detail the lands around the farm: among the direct neighbours there is a farmer with cattle (thirteen cows) whose only production is fodder for this livestock – yet he manages approximately 90–100 hectares! And several other neighbours ‘manage’ arable land on which there is no arable production. The clearings on this farm nevertheless testify to the existence of social openings, as more collaborative forest-owning neighbours were willing to sell land. Both farmers (on the farms CF 4, CF 2) stress that land cover processes depend “mostly on who it is” (farmer interview), i.e. on who owns and manages the land, given the soil quality is suitable.

This is the only detailed survey of the surrounding landholders’ land management in my study but the issue has been brought up by others, too; while I have not investigated such neighbourhood aspects systematically, they do appear to be important from the farmer perspective (see also Moving, Placing, Gathering Land). The fragmentation of farm domains, and the strategies applied in order to move land closer to the farmsteads, suggest that there is not enough land available nearby. In their assessment of the reasons for recent land clearance in Finland, Kivimaa and colleagues (2012) stress that land shortage – one of the main reasons – is experienced locally in conjunction with increasing farm sizes.

Availability of land can in general terms be described as the presence of openings in the farm neighbourhood (in the sense of free space in a thing-structured timespace). Since access to land is regulated by land ownership and lease agreements, such openings are socio-spatial in

nature. The findings from the farms studied here suggest that the farm neighbourhoods can be an important factor inhibiting access to land.

Neighbourhoods can generate a constraining lack of land to expand on, if there is conflict in the neighbourhood; and if social conflicts remain unresolved, this may hinder future exchanges of land, whether lease or purchase (evidence from one land use farm). Where there are helpful relationships in the neighbourhood, on the other hand, farmers can expand, and receive other kinds of support, too (again, evidence from both clearance farms and land use farms). At a minimum, the process of arranging for access to land appears to me a kind of a social puzzle, for withdrawing and ‘active’ farmers alike (the farm with summer grazing services, the farm with the tilling sequence, amongst others). Flygare (2011b) describes leasehold as enabling dynamic and change in an overall stable land ownership structure in Sweden.

The two land-cover processes identified might interact in some landscapes to produce the scarcity of land that has been emphasised by farmers on the clearance farms. Since, when studying the clearance farms, I did not study neighbouring farms whose farmers were in the process of withdrawing/downscaling their involvement (i.e. the farmers described as

‘passive’ in their land management), I can only speculate that they might view land in ways similar to farmers on the land use farms. Their land management, based on values other than production values, then ‘clashes’ with the spatial intentions of the farmers actively engaging in an agricultural enterprise, their desire to expand.

For such enterprises run as a livelihood, increased production is felt to be necessity, dictated by the current neo-liberal regime of open market competition. What looks like having at least the potential for a clash in the symbiotic neighbourhood situation instead takes