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concomitant expansion in cattle numbers might appear to be reasonable from that point of view, too. On the farm LUF 20, spruce and aspen have been removed (before regular felling maturity) to enlarge an existing pasture area directly visible from the farmhouse; the farmer envisions a group of birch trees and some solitary oaks. The goal of this enlargement is to create a more pleasurable landscape: “We thought the spruce didn't really fit in, so we took it out”

(farmer interview); the openness will be maintained by invited “summer guests” (an expression the farmer uses to refer to a neighbour's cattle) (an excerpt from this interview is included in Appendix VII, in Swedish). On these three farms, land has been opened-up by land cover conversion from forest to arable land.

On three other farms, arable land has been afforested: on the farm LUF 17, an arable field has been planted with spruce and birch. In 2010, the farmer described how “everything here was under cultivation previously” (farmer interview), by which he alludes to the time before the 1980s when his father managed the farm. Between 1980 and 1990, several fields had been afforested. On this farm, openness of land near the farmstead is important, while the lands are otherwise managed according to the end of improving all land cover types on the farm estate to enhance its landed value, including

“improv[ing] it for the leaseholder, to keep him happy” (farmer interview). On the farm LUF 10, a field “behind the old crofter's cottage” (farmer interview) has been afforested by planting larch;

this land is located at what from the farm perspective is a large distance (1.6 km) from the farmstead, in a forested area where there used to be a croft, and the farmer couple maintains the empty cottage. The farmer describes the afforested land as having been mostly open with a few broadleaf stands, going on in the same

breath to explain the benefits of larch (the wood is darker than pine, and the tree is fast growing).

This farmer couple retired from farming and leased out their arable land in 2000; the afforestation carried out “14 years ago” (farmer interview, referring to approximately 1996) was during the period when they were considering withdrawal. In the same area, two arable fields remain, which are maintained by cutting the grass once a year. On this farm, land management follows several aims, the farmer explains, including a good living environment, no pressure being placed on the children to take over the farm prematurely, and managing the property in a way that increases its value irrespective of who will take over in the future.

On the farm LUF 7, a pasture on which trees had already started to re-grow has been actively afforested; after twenty years of off-farm employment, in 2010 the farmer shifted to farming on a less intensive basis (the particular reason why this parcel was not cleared from forest regrowth is not documented).

In addition to these land cover changes, two farmers reported having received approval from the county administrative board for afforestation of an arable field (1.4 ha) and a meadow (3.4 ha), respectively. Both fields are located separate and at a relatively large distance from the main body of the farms' arable land. The first case is a rectangular and level field (Figure 15), easy to till according to the farmer, but separated by surrounding forest. At the time of the interview, it had not been tilled for five years, since the farmer retired from farming in 2005. While the rest of the arable land has found an external

‘manager’, this parcel has been left aside. The second planned afforestation concerns “a beautiful meadow”, as the farmer describes this piece of land lying somewhat more isolated from the rest of the arable land on this land; the farmer goes on to say that it does not feel right

to afforest this land. The rest of the arable land on this second home estate is leased out to a neighbouring farmer.

Figure 15. Planned Field Afforestation

The rectangular field at the eastern border of the farm estate is subjected to afforestation plans.

Arable land near the farmstead can be seen in these cases to be more stable than land farther away; and forest land in the same situation – i.e.

near to the farmstead – should be described as more instable, especially when adjacent to arable land (the same goes for the localization of many of the clearings studied). At a distant location (from the perspective of the farm centre of the management unit), the openness of land is less stable. The stability of arable land and the instability of forest at the forest-arable land interface near the farmstead can be understood as time-economically motivated, as can the tendency to afforestation in relative periphery.

The stability of arable land near the farmhouse can be understood as being reinforced by the objective of managing the landscape around the farmstead.

The What-Fits-Where -Principle

Landscape management points in the direction of the ‘what-fits-where’ principle. This principle can be seen to play a significant part, at the same time as it is difficult to describe its workings; this section provides examples of the principle in action. I would suggest that land cover decisions are relative to what is around, both in time and space. When spruce has followed spruce several times, when swampy land with aspen has been drained and replanted with spruce, when an old birch stand has been replaced by spruce, then a spruce stand can be replanted with larch, as “we already had so much spruce” (farmer interview).

On another farm, after the mature spruce was felled on one parcel, it was replanted with spruce as that patch of land does not lie “here in front of our eyes” (farmer interview). Production value, and a desire “to show responsibility to those who'll come after us” (farmer interview) were brought up as motives for this action. At the same time, as already touched upon in the previous section, spruce and aspen have been removed to enlarge an existing pasture.

Where forest does not fit in, the farmer may remove such land cover to replace it with something that looks better when viewed from the farmhouse. On several of the farms studied, including the clearance farms, forest has been removed on grounds relating to the land itself, too, with the farmers saying that forest could not thrive on the land in question (e.g. on the farm LUF 5, as well as on the farms CF 7 and CF 11, see chapter B7). Another example of the what-fits-where principle upon is “the hayfield nearest to the cowhouse [that] has not been ploughed for many years” (farmer interview), an adjustment of the usual regularity of ploughing intervals to the convenience of having a grazing space nearby.

Land is also variously seen as something to hold on to or something to be sold. On one farm, a

separate part of the farm estate, with road access over a neighbour’s land, was sold, one of the reasons given being that “it made the neighbour so happy” (farmer interview) to be able to purchase the land. To my mind, this is a further example of the ‘what-fits-where’ principle. Here the aim is not to introduce complete relativism in thinking about land-cover decision-making;

rather, I wish to draw attention to what appears

− without contradicting previously described

findings − to be a central rule of judgement in farmers’ land-use decision-making. It highlights the importance of considering the field as a timespace contained in the context of the farm as a whole, with history and spatial extension.

Land-use decisions remain flexible and contextual, and they are taken in relation to what else is present on the farm or at the specific locality, including past land use decisions.

B.5 Background of the Land-Cover Continuity on Arable