Environment and History
Environment and History 13(2007): 211-246
Changes in forest use are considered as a potential key driver for recently observed changing forest dynamics in the pine forest belt of the upper Rhone valley (Canton of Valais, Switzerland). In this region, traditional non-timber forest uses, such as forest litter harvesting and wood pasture, were practised until the second half of the twentieth century. The practice of traditional non-timber forest uses led to specific environmental conditions which favoured pine as a pioneer species. With the abandonment of these practices the pine was subjected to increased competition and largely replaced by deciduous trees. In this study, the history of traditional non-timber forest uses was reconstructed by combining the analysis of forest management plans and the results from oral history interviews. The forest management plans represent the view of the forest administration whereas the narratives obtained from oral history interviews allow putting the traditional non-timber forest uses into the context of people's daily life. The different characteristics of the two source types are illustrated with two regional case studies. Different socioeconomic and political drivers were identified (changes in non-farming employment, changes in demand for forest products, access to substitute products, regulations), which led to the abandonment of traditional non-timber forest uses in the Valais. The combination of forest management plans and oral history leads to a comprehensive picture of the history and significance of traditional non-timber forest uses. Our findings confirm that information on traditional non-timber forest uses is crucial for an understanding of present day dynamics in the pine forest ecosystems of the Valais.
This article is available online (PDF format) from ingenta. Access is free if your institution subscribes to Environment and History.
Reprints of this article can be ordered from ingenta or the British Library
Contact the publishers for subscriptions and back numbers of Environment and History.Other papers in this volume
THE WHITE HORSE PRESS
The Old Vicarage, Winwick
Cambridgeshire, PE28 5PN, UK
Tel: +44 1832 293222