Landscape Ecology

, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 1563–1574 | Cite as

Land-cover and structural changes in a western Norwegian cultural landscape since 1865, based on an old cadastral map and a field survey

  • Liv Norunn Hamre
  • Stein Tage Domaas
  • Ingvild Austad
  • Knut Rydgren
Research Article


Many studies of land-cover and structural changes in cultural landscapes have used historical maps as a source for information about past land-cover. All transformations of historical maps onto modern coordinate systems are however burdened with difficulties when it comes to accuracy. We show that a detailed land survey of the present landscape may enable transformation of an old cadastral map directly onto the present terrain with very high accuracy. The detailed resulting map enabled us to locate remnants of semi-natural grasslands and man-made structures with continuity from 1865 and to test hypotheses about relationships between landscape changes and landscape characteristics. The main land-cover change 1865–2002 was decrease of arable fields, and addition of three new land-cover classes: horticultural, orchard and abandoned areas. Of the 330 man-made structures present in 1865, only 58 remained in 2002, while 63 new structures had been built after 1865. We found that semi-natural grasslands with continuity since 1865 were situated on ground with significantly lower production capacity than mean 1865 production capacity. The man-made structures with continuity since 1865 were also associated with areas with significantly lower production capacity than the 1865 mean, situated in significantly steeper terrain but not further from the hamlet. Our study illustrates the potential of digitised and accurately transformed historical cadastral maps combined with detailed field surveys for analysis of land-cover and structural changes in the cultural landscape.


Cadastral map Cultural landscape GIS Land-cover change Man-made structures Map transformation Statistical testing Urnes stave church 



We acknowledge all the landowners who kindly permitted us to survey their land properties. Asle Lerum, Daniel Lerum, John A. Gladsø, Inger Auestad and Stein Joar Hegland are thanked for inestimable help with the field work. Inger Auestad and Rune H. Økland gave valuable comments on the manuscript. This work is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, project: Landscape changes in rural areas. We have also received financial support from the Norwegian Directorate for cultural heritage and Luster municipality.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liv Norunn Hamre
    • 1
  • Stein Tage Domaas
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ingvild Austad
    • 1
  • Knut Rydgren
    • 1
  1. 1.Sogn og Fjordane University CollegeSogndalNorway
  2. 2.Finnmark County AuthorityVadsoNorway

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