Bolette Bele

Research Scientist

(+47) 911 95 359
bolette.bele@nibio.no

Place
Trondheim

Visiting address
Statens Hus, Prinsensgate 1, 7013 Trondheim .

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Abstract

Interest in localized agri-food systems has grown significantly in recent years. They are associated with several benefits and are seen as important for rural development. An important share of the academic debate addresses the contribution of localized food systems to the current and/or future sustainability of agriculture. Sustainability is defined in several ways, but many scholars recognize that sustainability can only be achieved by a combination of socio-economic, cultural, and environmental aspects. However, the attributes and indicators used for sustainability analyses also differ. Biodiversity is, for instance, often not included in analyses of environmental sustainability even if biodiversity is of crucial importance for longer-term ecological sustainability. To contribute to the debate about the importance of localized food production for sustainability from the environmental point of view, specifically with regard to biodiversity, this is therefore discussed based on the results of several studies presented in this paper. The studies focus on Nordic low-intensity livestock systems related to species-rich semi-natural grasslands. All the studies show that low-intensive agriculture and use of semi-natural grasslands may play an important role in maintaining biodiversity on both small and large scales. They also show that milk and dairy products from free-ranging livestock in heterogeneous landscapes with semi-natural grasslands may have a unique quality associated with local grazing resources. Thus, producers can combine production of food of documented high nutritional and gastronomic value with maintenance of biodiversity, i.e., localized agri-food production based on low-intensive agriculture systems and semi-natural grasslands may be a win-win recipe for both farmers and the society.

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Abstract

Mountain tourism depends intensively on the quality of the landscape. In recent years, the Norwegian Trekking Association has focused on local food products at their staffed lodges and it uses the slogan “eat the view.” Such a strategy raises the focus on the agricultural use of the land and the quality of the products. Several Norwegian studies were carried out to investigate the quality of different mountain products and connections with vegetation types and grazing behavior. The results show that milk and meat products from animals grazing on alpine rangelands have improved quality compared to “normal” products. A healthier fatty acid composition and a higher content of secondary plant metabolites were characteristic of mountain products. Furthermore, grazing is of the utmost importance for the maintenance of open mountain landscapes and the biodiversity that is dependent on such landscapes. Maintaining traditional grazing systems also secures the preservation of traditional ecological knowledge about utilizing natural resources. Mountain tourism experiences could be improved and enhanced by documenting and telling the unique story of these complex connections between mountain landscapes, biodiversity, agricultural traditions, and local food products.

Abstract

Terroir characteristics of local food products are sometimes a result of ecosystem services from special nature types as mountain semi-natural grasslands. Several environmental conditions such as climate, topography, location above sea level, geology and soil are important factors defining frames for different vegetation types and available fodder resources in mountain areas. In addition, cultural traditions and a great variety in human land use systems are important determinants for grassland biodiversity. Results from several Norwegian studies show that species rich mountain pastures improve local food quality.

Abstract

The objective of this pilot study was to compare resource use in a mountainous summer farming landscape between old and modern dairy cow breeds during a five-day period. The modern breed used a larger part of the landscape than the old breed, most likely due to differences in habitat patterns. The old breed group preferred semi-natural pastures, while the modern breed preferred overgrown semi-natural meadows, intermediate fen, intermediate wooded fen, and grass-rich sub-alpine birch woodland. Both breeds spent most time grazing grasses, but the modern breed showed a higher frequency of grasses and Vaccinium myrtillus in its diet, while the old breed showed a higher frequency of bushes and trees. The pilot study shows some trends supplementing and strengthening earlier results on how modern and traditional cattle breeds are differing in their impact on vegetation based on their use of space and their different diets.

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Abstract

Analysing forest history is crucial to understanding how shifting harvesting methods have different effects on forest landscape structure. Two main harvesting regimes in a Norwegian boreal forest landscape over a period of 150 years were detected by the study. A homogeneous impact regime resulting from selective logging changed the forest structure by logging the oldest and largest trees evenly throughout the forest, resulting in a homogeneous landscape structure. However, population growth in the 19th century led to a substantial increase in traditional subsistence forestry to obtain building materials, firewood, etc. The most intensive stage of this regime started in c.1860 when farmers began selling logging contracts to companies and timber traders. Despite this being termed a homogeneous landscape impact, the actual exploitation of the forest was strongly influenced by local factors such as the location of farms, summer farms, lakes, and rivers. Clear-cutting from the 1950s has resulted in a new heterogeneous impact regime, giving a landscape structure dominated by patches of even-aged stands. This regime still predominates. The analysis is based on a study of Nordli and the Sandøla drainage basin in Nord-Trøndelag. Such studies should give a better understanding of the interaction between natural ecological conditions in and human impact on boreal forest landscapes.

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Abstract

Since 1993, Norwegian governmental subsidies have been applied to preserve valuable semi-natural grasslands in Norway. After 8 years of management and payments, the effects of the subsidies were investigated in the county of Nord-Trøndelag. The intention of the subsidies, to secure both open landscapes and biodiversity, was not obtained due to a general lack of knowledge of ecology and biodiversity at all levels. This clearly demonstrates the importance of knowledge and information exchange between scientists, authorities, politicians and farmers to secure maintenance of the most valuable semi-natural grasslands. In addition, transdisciplinary research and exchange of knowledge between archaeologists, historians and ecologists are necessary to preserve the most valuable cultural landscapes with regard to both biodiversity and cultural monuments. This study was presented at the EGF meeting 21-24 June 2004, Luzern, Switzerland.