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The Ebb and Flow of Trees and Farmland: Symbols of Nationhood in Scotland and Norway
Karen Lykke Syse

Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 4 (2013): 219–228

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219 K. Lykke Syse 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 Introduction Although European landscape-management policy is seen by some as the result of objective natural science (Jørstad and Skogen 2010), it is impossible to separate nature from the way we perceive it. The stories we tell and have told about nationhood play an important role in defining which landscapes are managed, how, and why. As the historian Simon Schama (1995:10) writes: “[I]t is our shaping perception that makes the difference between raw matter and landscape.” Stories of the forest and its trees have been surprisingly enduring throughout European history, Schama (1995:17) points out, and adds: “[M]any of our modern concerns—empire, nation, freedom, enterprise, and dictatorship—have invoked topography to give their ruling ideas a natural form.” Trees and forests, whether we plant them, harvest them or leave them be, have had a cultural and spiritual significance throughout the ages. Trees are prominent features of any given landscape, and their seasonal changes and lifecycles remind us of our own mortality (Jones and Cloke 2002:32, Syse 2000:82). The “World Tree”, of which Norse mythology’s Yggdrasil is an example, is perhaps one of the most commonly used symbols for the creation of the universe, and the “Tree of Life” is perhaps just as encompassing. Trees have been charged with important functions in rituals associated with birth, marriage, and death and are still used in this way in many cultures (Genesis 2.9; Porteous 1996:149– 186, Schama 1995:219). Trees matter, which is perhaps why countries spend a lot of time, effort, and money both planting them (like in Scotland) and fighting them (like in Norway). Both Norway and Scotland are countries on the periphery of Europe. In a global economy, both countries are less dependent than earlier on producing food, and land that was tilled or grazed in the past is presently being managed without food production as the main outcome. In Norway, forestry practice is less contested in general, and both public and popular focus is on the loss of farmland and grazing land due to the natural regeneration of trees. This shift in land-use is happening because farming in most Norwegian areas has lost its economic importance. In Scotland, broadleaves are being planted, while in Norway, broadleaves are being actively fought through funding and subsidies to maintain historical rural landscapes (Syse 2001, 2009b). Both Norway and Scotland have a similar heritage of subsistence in a relatively harsh climate, and certain general trends within land use can be found. The afforested area is increasing, and perceptions of woodland and forest have changed (Mather 1998:106, Syse 2001). We have two countries and two stories, both representing loss of a particular kind of nature: loss of open ground in Norway and loss of trees in Scotland. But the practical and ideological outcomes of somewhat similar starting points are diametrically different. Both Norway and Scotland were poverty stricken in the 1800s. The population of the two countries were approximately the same, and about the same percentage of people left for America or Canada to improve their situation (Smout 1986, Østrem 2006). Like Scotland was ruled by the English after 1750, Norway was in Union with Denmark until 1814 and then Sweden until 1905. Norway was in both theory and practice governed by Norwegians in 1905, and drew heavily on Norwegian rural patriotic symbols. In the same way, the Caledonian Forest became an important symbol of Scottish nationhood. A symbolic cure to recreate— The Ebb and Flow of Trees and Farmland: Symbols of Nationhood in Scotland and Norway Karen Lykke Syse* Abstract - How does historiography merge with national stories and shape tangible land use and land management issues? This article explores how two national stories—“The Free Norwegian Farmer” in Norway and ”The Caledonian Forest” in Scotland—have become influential. More specifically, it investigates how they activate key symbols which are used as both ends and means in landscape-management policies. Using trees as a starting point, this article will show how afforestation plans on one hand and schemes to fight brushwood encroachment on the other each are direct or indirect outcomes of national stories that have merged with historical processes. National stories are defined as accounts used in the past and present to strengthen the political idea of nationhood. The term “key symbols” will be used as Sherry Ortner defined them: as elements within a culture ”which … are crucial to its distinctive organization”. This article is based on literature studies, interviews, and ethnographic fieldwork among people working in agriculture, forestry, and land management and policy in Scotland and Norway during 2001, 2004, and 2005. Across the Sólundarhaf: Connections between Scotland and the Nordic World Selected Papers from the Inaugural St. Magnus Conference 2011 Journal of the North Atlantic *Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo, PO Box 1116 Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway; k.v.l.syse@ sum.uio.no. 2013 Special Volume 4:219–228 K. Lykke Syse 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 220 and in some cases reinvent —the Caledonian Forest, is to plant trees. The Norwegian cure for the loss of arable land symbolizing the independent farmer is to keep the trees away (Syse 2009a, b). Landscapes of Scotland and Norway are infused with stories that are used to support ideas of nationhood. In the following, I will present one Scottish and one Norwegian narrative relating to trees. First, the story of “The Free Norwegian Farmer” might not seem like an obvious story of trees, but I will argue that this story—albeit indirectly—has been influential to a managerial practice which involves fighting natural regeneration of trees and forest on Norwegian arable land. Second, the story of “The Caledonian Forest” has been used actively throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as an argument to plant trees, whether these trees have been fast-growing exotic species of conifers grown for timber, or slow-growing native1 trees. The way in which the stories have been interpreted and conveyed, emphasizing certain aspects and leaving other aspects out altogether, shape the way we relate to our surroundings2. The Caledonian Forest Coed Celyddon—The Woods of Caledon or The Caledonian Forest —is, as far as we know, first referred to in Arthurian legends. According to these legends, Merlin was a wild man of the woods, and his abode was supposedly in Coed Celyddon (Jackson 1945). The modern interpretation of these legends owes much to what the environmental historian T.C. Smout (1997:5) coined a “masterpiece of popular ecology”, namely Frank Fraser Darling’s (1947) Natural History in the Highlands and Islands. Darling was considered one of the first ecologists, and he actively used the story of the Caledonian Forest to encourage Scottish industrial forestry. But what is—or was—this Caledonian Forest? There is archaeological and biological evidence of a native Scottish forest covering about 50 to 60 percent of the Scottish land surface, albeit as far back as in the Mesolithic period (between 10,000 and 5000 years ago). However, environmental historians, archaeologists, and ecologists conclude that nine-tenths of the forest had gone before 1000 AD (Rackham 1986, Smout 2003:7, Tipping et al. 1999). The story of the Caledonian Forest is not just a story conveying what Scotland might have looked like in the past, it is also a story of loss and a lament for the past, and perhaps a past in which the Scottish people lived prosperous lives in harmony with nature. To emphasize this point, both the extent and content of the Caledonian Forest is sometimes exaggerated. The website of the official Scottish tourist agency, VisitScotland, notes that: “Scotland’s ancient Caledonian pinewood forests once spread across thousands of kilometres of the Highlands. They now remain at just 84 sites and cover 180 km2 in the north and west. However, the forests aren’t just Scots pine rich. Juniper, birch, willow, rowan, and aspen trees are all native pinewood forest species.”3 In Rannoch, a moorland area in the highlands of Perthshire, the local visitors’ web page declares that: “The Black Wood of Rannoch is one of the few remaining patches of the original Caledonian Pine Forest that once covered the whole of Scotland.”4 Apparently the Caledonian Forest once covered most of Scotland with native trees. It is a story told on television and in the press; one can find it repeated on the websites of nature conservation agencies and in literature. It is a powerful tale, and an example of how it is sometimes conveyed can be found in a book by Hugh Miles and Brian Jackman, a book which accompanied Hugh Miles’ prize-winning film. The introductory chapter reads: “The Great Wood of Caledon is our oldest British woodland, a primeval northern forest which had already been standing for at least 2000 years when Stonehenge was raised … there was hardly a glen that was not roofed with trees … When the Romans came to Britain it became a refuge for the Pictish tribes who waged guerrilla war on the imperial legions … Then came the Vikings, and the war on the Great Wood began … they torched the forests, and felled the tall trees to fashion masts for their longships ... Yet still the Great Wood stretched for miles, a sanctuary for wolves and renegades alike until the English arrived to smoke them out … the crushing of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Highland rebels signalled the end of the glory of Caledon. Down came the mighty trees, felled by the impoverished clan chiefs, who forced to pay off their hated Hanoverian landlords, sold their timber to English ironmasters.” (Miles and Jackman 1991:11–12). According to the environmental historian T.C. Smout, this is an example of “history going off the rails, starting more or less true and crashing in hopeless error.” Like Ireland and much of Europe, Scotland was covered in forest, bar the mountain tops and marshes. This forest varied in species composition, with mainly conifers in the north and east of the 221 K. Lykke Syse 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 Highlands. Yet the surviving semi-natural remnants today are no older than broadleaved woodland in other parts of the British Isles (Smout 2000:37). The Great Wood of Caledon has become a story used to convey a lot more than an account of prehistoric woodland. The Caledonian Forest has become something to fight for and something charitable organizations help recreate. The story conveys the idea that invading forces throughout Scottish history have contributed to the destruction of this forest. The Romans, followed by the Vikings, and then the English, all supposedly cut down parts of the forest according to popular and semi-popular belief. But why is it relevant to nuance this story? Perhaps because what the botanist Oliver Rackham calls “factoids” and “pseudo-history” wins ground at the expense of “real history”, and because landscape history is particularly susceptible to so called factoids. Rackham (2003:16) says: “Pseudo-history is made up of factoids. A factoid looks like a fact, is respected as a fact, and has all the properties of a fact except that it is not true ... Pseudo-history is not killed by publishing real history, this does not lead to a controversy in which one or the other version wins. In practice, either the old version is retold as if nothing had happened, or authors try to combine the two versions as if both could be true.” So what do we know about the Caledonian Forest? We know that much of Scotland, like Europe in general, was covered with forest in about 3000 BC. Climatic changes contributed to the forest declining. Archaeological evidence like carbon dating shows that much of the broadleaved wood was felled by Celtic tribes as early as the first millennium BC. Ro - man accounts only record one episode when they actually entered a woodland in Scotland (Breeze 1997:47–51, Smout 2000:39). There are no traces of Vikings setting fire to pinewoods, and had they done so, this would have encouraged regeneration rather than extinction, according to ecologists. The force of the English after the Jacobite rising in 1745 was positive rather than negative, as they encouraged the sustainable use of coppiced oak for the production of charcoal rather than using Scots pine (Dingwall 1997). The contribution of climate change and overgrazing— particularly by Scottish peasants’ goats5— created the open hill landscape that still characterizes much of Scotland today. Accordingly, the size of the former native woods of Scotland has been exaggerated and romanticized. Who was responsible for this romantization? Some of the blame must be assigned to the romantic poets. Writers like Burns, Scott, and Wordsworth partook in expressing aesthetic virtues of natural woodland as opposed to planted forests. Wordsworth, for instance, extolled the qualities of the oak, ash, and holly and despised the foreign planted trees. In fact, there was a post-enlightenment, postromantic conflict between a utilitarian and an aesthetic use of nature, something that has been a theme in historiography over the past two centuries (Smout 2000:61). Queen Victoria’s appreciation of the Scottish highlands also led to a romantic admiration, or “Balmoralization” of Scottish landscapes. Peasant landscapes were transformed or perceived as rugged sporting venues for tartan- or tweed-clad aristocrats and gentlemen passing their time grouse-shooting and deer-stalking (Gold and Gold 1995:79; Lorimer 2000; Queen Victoria 1868, 1884). Interestingly, although new ideas about forestry evolved in the post-enlightenment post-romantic period, this shift in thought did not seem to be an immediate cure for the decline of trees in Scotland, with one exception. In areas where there was an immediate industrial need for timber, like for instance the iron-smelting furnaces in Argyll, the forests were managed on a sustainable level. Bunawe Furnace in Argyll needed 10,000 acres of oak coppice to operate. When the furnace closed in 1876, the woods were at least as extensive as when they opened in 1753 (Lindsay 1975, after Smout 2000:56). After the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century, rocketing timber prices and the demands of shipbuilding encouraged explorers and botanists to search the world for even better trees to plant in Scotland. David Douglas brought the Douglas fir back from North America to Scotland. It was a tree that was appreciated for its ornamental value, but also for its timber qualities. The Sitka spruce, a native of Alaska, was originally planted as a rapidly growing ornamental tree, but soon proved its financial worth. A Sitka only needs about 40 years of growth in Scotland to become the same size as an 80-year-old Norway spruce (grown in Norway). After the agricultural depression of the late nineteenth century, landowners suffered a corrosion of both political and economical power. Landed wealth could not compete with the modern industrial wealth, and increased taxation by the British government reduced the estate owners’ affluence even further (Tsouvalis 2000:18). Gradually, landlords sold their land, probably only after having sold off other possible assets, such as timber. In Norway, the forest is commonly termed “the farmers’ bank account” because the timber is a resource that farmers will only sell if new investments have to be paid for or sudden expenses incurred. In Britain, increased taxation may have led to unexpected results for the government, such as an increase in deforestation. K. Lykke Syse 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 222 The British ports were blockaded during the First World War, partly preventing timber imports. This crisis led to an idea of establishing forests as a strategic reserve of timber, and the Forestry Commission was established in 1919. Fifteen Royal Forests in Britain were transferred to the care of the Forestry Commission, initiating a vast national forest. The Forestry Commission’s objective was to produce timber as quickly and economically as possible. Capitalism allowed the large-scale planting of evenly spaced monoculture conifers which would mature at the same time. These were planted both in old wooded areas and on open hill land. By 1949, the Forestry Commission had become the largest landowner in Britain, owning 1,500,000 acres of land (Tompkins 1989, after Tsouvalis 2000:70). Despite this, only six percent of Scotland was covered with trees by 1960, which did little more than replace the trees felled during the war years. The reason for the relatively modest increase in forest cover is not explained in forestry accounts; however, the post-war years in general were characterized by fairly low mechanization, less efficient infrastructure, and other practical obstacles. Between 1960 and 1980, forestry management companies planted many thousands of hectares of coniferous forest in Scotland, and forest cover in 2000 was somewhere between seventeen and twenty percent (Foot 2003:178–181). This is slightly higher than Dingwall’s estimate of forest cover in the 1500s, although the species list is very different. In 2000, the forest cover was about 20 percent, although only two percent of this could be termed native woodland (Smout 2000:47). Future generations will be able to see whether recent developments in modern forestry, with its focus on native species, will make a significant difference or not. Accordingly, an important reason for the presentday nostalgia for the past is the very real and devastating effect two world wars had on the Scottish forest. The story of the great Wood of Caledonia had two important functions in post-war Britain. Firstly, it was conveniently used by the Forestry Commission to justify afforestation. In doing so, the Forestry Commission was thinking in utilitarian terms, thus covering the Scottish hills with fast-growing and heavy-yielding exotic species such as Sitka spruce, arguing that tree cover was better than barren hills— irrespective of tree species (Tsouvalis 2000:1). As a response to this, the story of the Caledonian Forest was used by nature conservation groups and others who opposed the afforestation of exotic tree species, because the dark blocks of non-native species conveyed none of the imaginary properties of the Great Wood of Caledon (Smout 2000:39). The Forestry Commission, which was responsible for the majority of the past afforestation schemes in Scotland, was criticized by both the public and by the environmental lobby after the intensive afforestation leading up to the 1980s. The Forestry Commission saw a need to change, and to create a new corporate identity to keep up with new ideas of sustainability and nature conservancy. This change, coined “a reflective turn”, began in the early 1980s. It resulted in concepts like multi-purpose forestry, sustainability, and biodiversity being incorporated in Forestry Commission’s managerial policies. Conceptual boundaries between woodlands and forestry were being re-negotiated and re-conceptualized, and is an ongoing process. Various “native forests” have been established in areas where little or no paleontological work has been undertaken to create or re-create the Wood of Caledon, using native species rather than exotics this time round. The narrative of the Caledonian Forest served as a justification for two contrary reactions, first afforestation with exotic species and then, paradoxically, the opposition to this (Tsouvalis 2000:144). The concept of “tree-hugging” and “talking to the trees” has regularly been applied as a term ridiculing people who relate to nature in spiritual or mystical ways, but this view has been challenged by the development of “New-Age” Celtic pagan spiritualism. In the 1990s, various direct-action campaigns by environmentalists often had trees as their focus, and made affection for and connection with trees more commonly acceptable (Jones and Cloke 2002:37). Today, organizations such as Trees for Life not only raise awareness about the supposedly missing Caledonian Forest, but also for reintroducing species that were at one time found in this forest; they hope for the reintroduction of animal species that at one point inhabited Scotland, such as the beaver, the wild boar, the lynx, the elk, the brown bear, the wolf, the reindeer, and the auroch (despite the last mentioned species being extinct worldwide since the 1600s). They state that: “they each play an essential role in the ecosystem, and there will never be a healthy selfsustaining forest in the Highlands until all the constituent species, especially the large mammals, are back again.”6 To some people, this pre-agrarian wilderness is what symbolizes the true Scotland. Some of the animal species that relied on pine woods have become threatened by extinction, in part because of climate change, but also because of modern people’s fascination with introducing new species of both plants and animals. Species highlighted as threatened by the environmental quango Scottish Natural Heritage receive a due amount of consideration in planning 223 K. Lykke Syse 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 and conservation work. For instance, the capercaillie, sea eagle, beaver, and red squirrel are all species that have been introduced or re-introduced from Norway with varying degrees of local consent and support. For instance, the introduction of Norwegian beavers7 was highly disputed among landowners in the Knapdale area, while the re-introduction of red squirrels was uncontested. The red squirrel is an interesting example of how both flora and fauna can be used as a voice for various interest groups. Over the years, red squirrel numbers have fallen a great deal, and the American grey squirrel, introduced to Britain in the early 1900s, is increasing in numbers that parallel the decrease in the red squirrel. To help replace losses in red squirrel populations, squirrels from Scandinavia were introduced into Scotland early in the 21st century. Red squirrels are protected by law, and have been included in the Scottish Heritage Species Action Plan and the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.8 In Scotland, the highest numbers of red squirrels are found in coniferous woods, and they particularly like Norway spruce, which at the moment is considered non-native to Scotland. In many cases, these woods represent the exact opposite of the present version of the Caledonian Forest, which contains broadleaved trees and Scots pine. Plantations of Norway spruce provide an excellent food supply for squirrels. However, some of these forests are now being felled and replanted with native woodlands, thus further endangering the squirrels. Paradoxically, the commercial forestry companies have started to use environmentalist rhetoric when preparing their harvest and afforestation plans. They deliberately emphasize the benefits of spruce plantations as a good habitat for squirrels, birds, and insects, thus using the same biodiversity arguments for planting coniferous forests that environmentalists use to recreate the Caledonian Forest (Syse 2009a). The story of the Caledonian Forest is used by various groups for various reasons. Part of the story can be confirmed through archaeological evidence and material remains, part of the story can be questioned or even brushed off as pseudo-history. Nevertheless, the story itself holds strong whether academics believe in it or not, and to many people, it explains and summarizes a sense of Scottish history and identity. Although the story about the Caledonian forest is really about trees, it is also a key symbol to understand Scottish identity and the recent call for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. The story of the trees is influential to the idea of the Scottish nation, and the present-day political need to maintain a separate Scottish identity influences the way the Scottish people manage their landscapes—by establishing a material and physical evidence of the Caledonian Forest. A similar story can be found across the North Sea. In Norway, however, the abundance of trees and untameable nature threatens rather than re-establishes the landscape in which one of our national stories is embedded. The Story of the Free Norwegian Farmer While Scotland was an independent sovereign state (from the early middle ages to the Act of Union in 1707), Norway was from 1397 to 1523 in what was coined The Kalmar Union, with Denmark and Sweden. The Kalmar Union was followed by the Danish Union that lasted until 1814. Since the king, who lived in Denmark, was the sole lord of the country, and since the Norwegian aristocracy to a high degree were extirpated by the bubonic plague in 1349, there was no competitive feudal lordship left in the country. For this reason, the farmers were a strong and independent group (Imsen 2007:22). This situation gave many Norwegian farmers and peasants fairly unique and independent positions which were incomparable to their counterparts in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. In the following, the term “free” is used as a synonym for a farmer who is independent and owns his own land, as opposed to tenant farmers, and is not used as a dichotomy to serfs. Although serfs (or thrall as is a more accurate translation of the Norwegian “trell”) were found in Norway in the early middle ages, it is an altogether different level of freedom Norwegians refer to when using the term “free farmer” in everyday language. Even if the exact figures and levels of “freedom” are difficult to measure, it would be wrong to say that the independence situation of many Norwegian farmers was not unique. Compared to farmers under feudal lordship in Europe, Norwegian farmers only answered to the Danish sovereign, and the king lived conveniently far away. In the eighteenth century, the idea of the Norwegian farmer played a leading political and ideological role, as he became the icon of the nation-building process. An independent past is an important argument to emphasize national distinctiveness, especially for countries which need to mark independence after a period under the governance of other nations (Hage 1994). To feed this need, Norwegian historians and writers created a story providing the new, self-governing Norway with an historical foundation and continuity from medieval times through the time of Union and ending up with the democratic and consolidating constitution of 1814. For instance, in 1867 the historian R. Keyser wrote: “The Norwegian farmer has always been regarded as the Norwegian people’s main representative ... In ancient times he was even K. Lykke Syse 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 224 Hulda Garborg is considered the mother of the Norwegian folk costumes, or bunads as we know them today (Anderson 2001, Skre 2011). Interestingly, the image and the icon of the free Norwegian farmer still prevails in modern Norway. Every constitution day (17th of May), city, town, and village streets are full of men and women dressed in Norwegian regional costumes.9 Roughly estimated, Norwegians have bunads worth about 4 billion Euros sitting in their closets.12 Although only a tiny percentage of Norwegians make their living off the land today, the affection for rural national costumes points towards a nostalgic yearning for Norway’s rural past. If Norwegian farmers are scarce, Norwegians still perceive themselves as free and self-governing, something which staying outside the EU indicates. According to the anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen, the bunad symbolizes Norwegians’ personal attachment to history (Eriksen 2004). Wearing a bunad also communicates an affinity to a rural way of life lived in harmony with the other important Norwegian symbol—nature. So why this focus on the construction or reconstruction of national symbols of the past? As we shall soon see, both the farmer and his regional dress are embedded in the Norwegian landscape. The Polish cultural historian Nina Witoszek (2011) emphasizes the importance of nature and nature mythologies in Norwegian culture, and the ethnologist Tove Nedrelid calls nature a building block for Norwegian nationhood (1988:61). However, it is not necessarily the wild or untouched nature that fascinates most Norwegians. On the contrary, Norwegians like their cultivated landscapes. Because the arable land in Norway is (and was) so scarce, Norwegian farmers had to make use of what might be perceived as wilderness by outsiders to harvest fodder and other natural resources. An extreme example of this is that even the two highest mountains in Norway, Galdhøpiggen (2469 m above sea level) and Glittertind, have traces of transhumance, like fences and shielings, and the “wild” nature that Norwegians like to recreate in is a palimpsest of cultural and agricultural activity (Nedrelid 1988, 1993). Nedrelid also writes that in the front line of new national symbols—next to the Viking sagas, romantic landscapes, fairy tales, and the pure Norwegian flag—two important symbols stood tall: The Free Norwegian Farmer and The Free Norwegian Nature (Nedrelid 1988). These two key symbols stood proud for a long while, but now something has changed dramatically, and Norway’s national symbol— the free farmer—is becoming disembedded through the natural regeneration of trees. According to Statistics Norway,13 as little as 0.3 percent of Norway’s gross national product came from farming in 1999, and only 3 percent of Norway the only one. Not only did farmers constitute the main body of the people and the most prevalent part of society, the word farmer encapsulated everything which was considered free amongst the people; since both distinguished chieftains as well as the king himself were farmers.” (Visted and Stigum 1951:9, author’s translation). Building on the idea of strong, farming chieftains from the Viking age, and reinterpreting this figure to suit the means of nation building, the free (and proud) Norwegian farmer became the symbol of the new Norway (Lunden 1992, 2002; Seip 1997). The question of why the farmer became a national symbol has been posed, and scholars have suggested that since Norway has few material remains of a proud past apart from mainly wooden vernacular architecture, non-material elements like language, folklore, and traditions became cultural elements on which to build a new nation. The anthropologist Per Hage (1994) explores how this image of the archetypical Norwegian, which was embodied through a proud inland farmer (preferably envisioned skiing through a winter landscape), was less representative than one would think. Interestingly, the image of the free Norwegian farmer actively excluded the majority of the population who in the early 1800s lived along the coast and were cottars, crofters, and fishermen living on islands, islets, and Norway’s long archipelago rather than wealthy inland farmers (Berggren 1984, Gjertsen 1975, Hage 1994). According to the 1801 census, as many as 65 percent of all farmers were tenants who were only tied to the land through their willingness or need to provide labor to the landowner, who in most cases was another farmer (Lunden 2002:386). The story of the Free Norwegian farmer, like the Caledonian Forest, had become iconic and had grown somewhat out of its historical frame. While hoards of Norwegians moved into the cities or fled over the Atlantic to seek a more prosperous life elsewhere, the free farmer was projected as a national symbol, and so was his attire. Simultaneously, the use of regional clothing started declining from the mid-1800s. Artists started painting laboring countryfolk dressed in festive regional clothing in their picturesque rural landscapes from the 1840s and throughout the romantic period (Christensen 2002, Noss 2003). Moreover, from the mid-1800s, the regional costumes were coined national costumes. Around 1900, a movement called Norskbevegelsen (the Norwegian movement) evolved, and a central figure in this movement was a woman called Hulda Garborg (1862–1934), wife of the writer Arne Garborg. In 1903, she published the pamphlet Norsk klædebunad (Norwegian clothing; Garborg 1903). 225 K. Lykke Syse 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 something SNH [Scottish Natural Heritage] decide. At the moment, Beech isn’t native. But they have since decided that Sycamore is. Didn’t use to be, ’til about 10 years ago, it was considered non-native, but they’re moving on to the fact that Sycamore is native. They found a 5000-year-old Norway spruce in a bog up north somewhere. But they still won’t call Norway-spruce native. So I’m not quite sure how they decide what is native and what is non-native!” However, in a forestry commission brochure, it seems as if aesthetics is the true explanation: “Our native tree species—trees natural to this country—have been linked with Scottish culture and society throughout history. They are pleasing to the eye. They seem to ‘belong’ ’’ (Ramsey et al. 1998). The “native species” are given preferential treatment; they are planted, tended, and protected from deer and sheep by plastic tubes or fences. This aesthetic yardstick defining the true native Scottish wood is what is taught at schools and universities, shown on pamphlets from SNH and the Forestry Commission, and regarded as a correct nature management policy. Nevertheless, although the aesthetic seems an indisputable attribute, an interview with a Scottish forester pointed towards the inherent paradoxes in the Scottish nation-building project: “The Scots pine is very pretty and attractive— there’s half a dozen over there you see? They’re from German stock, these probably. Because nearly all the Scots pine that was planted by the Forestry Commission and the private forestry in the 60s, 70s, 80s, they were all German stock.” In other words, a pragmatic course is taken when planting, and the particular nationality of a tree is a cultural decision. After the author had completed fieldwork in Scotland and returned to Norway, recent contact was made by a SNH representative requiring assistance in finding Norwegian landscape managers working on juniper management projects. Names of some people who had carried out work on juniper in Hordaland County were promptly given. On the west coast of Norway, juniper is considered a problem because it regenerates so easily, taking over previously open grazing land, and they are introducing cashmere goats to combat the juniper. This was considered a very successful juniper management project. However, this was not the kind of juniper management scheme suitable for Scottish conditions, because in Scotland, juniper is scarce, yet regarded as one of the native Scottish species (Syse 2009a). is arable land. Because grazing has decreased dramatically, this small arable area is being encroached with trees, and many highland and lowland grazing areas have become broadleaved forests instead (Dramstad and Puschmann 2008, Puschmann and Dramstad 2009). This decrease in farmland has led to a change in landscape management. While Norwegian agricultural policy previously was geared towards increasing yields and striving for self-sufficiency (Almås 2002:271), focus is now given to the landscape itself (ibid.:379). Both tourist associations and the general public enjoy the open and grazed landscapes which Norwegian farming has created through the centuries. To maintain these landscapes, particularly the rough grazing areas, Norwegian farmers can apply for subsidies specially designed to encourage the aesthetics and biodiversity associated with cultural landscapes.10 These subsidies can, for instance, be used for fencing, mowing, grazing by goats or even Scottish Highland cattle, and maintaining old listed buildings. Like with the red squirrel rhetoric in Scotland, the farmers themselves have adopted the rhetoric of the heritage and biodiversity establishment who have actively used the term “cultural landscapes”. The Norwegian farmers’ associations actively use the term “cultural landscape” as a reason to maintain subsidies at a high level, and to argue against the reintroduction or protection of wolves and other large carnivores, as these make it unprofitable to keep sheep in some areas. Nationhood and Native Trees If trees—or lack of trees—as stated above, can strengthen claims of nationhood, it follows that flora can be defined as native or non-native. But how do we know which is which? For instance, the Norway spruce (Picea Abies) is non-native to Scotland, but native to Norway. However, Scots pine (Pinus Sylvestris) is highly appreciated and unfortunately not bountiful in Scotland, while it grows in abundance in Norway—where it is also native. Anthropologists often talk about “matter out of place”—that we dislike something if we perceive it is not supposed to be there. However, when assessing whether a tree ought to be in a particular landscape or not, confusion often arises, and it is no longer so easy to separate the “oughts” from the “ought-nots”. During fieldwork in Scotland (Syse 2009a), a Forestry Commission officer discussed native versus non-native trees as follows: “Non-native is anything that’s not wanted in a native woodland area. Rhododendron, Bamboo … we try to avoid it. There’s no age limit to what’s considered non-native, that’s K. Lykke Syse 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 226 The example with the introduction of goats is not the only means by which Norwegians try to keep the trees at bay. On the west coast of Norway, there is a heathland center, which manages a small area of heath using traditional methods. But even this limited and very well-monitored area of heathland is being invaded by Sitka spruce (Syse 2009b). Nature is incredibly responsive to use as well as lack of use, and will always reflect management schemes, or even lack of management schemes. It is possible to change the landscape, but when the economic incentives for such change are limited, it becomes even more challenging to do so. The steep and stony old grazing areas in parts of Norway which once were the arena of the independent and hardworking farmers— icons of Norwegian nationhood—have lost their systematic context and are now mainly grazed and harvested for reasons probably far beyond the comprehension to those that once gave shape to the land. Maintaining agriculture in these areas is a question of rural demography rather than food production. The above-mentioned juniper is not a species that is threatened internationally, nevertheless time and effort is spent encouraging its growth in Scotland. Similar management practices are used to encourage birds that are scarce in one place but found in abundance in others, or as is the case in Norway, encouraging large carnivores like wolves, bear, and lynx in areas where farmers are given cultural landscape subsidies to maintain grazing—a policy which some farmers regard as both a contestable and expensive way to reintroduce large carnivores in areas where they have been close to extinction (Skogen and Krange 2003). Conclusion According to the anthropologist Laura Rival (1998:13), “native trees have come to play an important role in state-making.” Analyzing why trees have been given a role as heroes or villains in national stories such as that of The Caledonian Forest and The Free Norwegian Farmer and juxtaposing them with one another explains how history and ideology are merged and shape tangible land-use and landmanagement issues. The Caledonian Forest and The Free Norwegian Farmer have become key symbols (Ortner 1973) as they have influenced the general public’s and policy-makers’ ideas of nationhood, and are used as both ends and means in landscapemanagement policies. These examples illustrate how humans attach cultural values to the land, and how land management is as much a question of building a national identity as increasing the biodiversity. Certain trees, animals, and even whole landscapes are considered more valuable than others. Natural, geographical, historical, and cultural factors influence how nature is managed. It would be meaningless to argue that we should stop managing nature, but it is important to bear in mind that cultural and practical assessments are common in all environmental practice.11 Even when trying to reconstruct “natural woodland”, environmentalists are doing exactly what farmers have been doing since the advent of agriculture: encouraging nature in the manner which is considered most beneficial at a certain historical period, after applying practical and cultural reasoning. Acknowledgments I would like to thank Richard Oram, Kristian Bjørkdahl, Kenneth Bo Nielsen, Michael Bruce, and two anonymous reviewers for thoughtful comments. Literature Cited Almås, R. 2002. Norges Landbrukshistorie IV: Frå Bondesamfunn til Bioindustri. Samlaget, Oslo, Norway. Anderson, B. 2001. Hulda og Heimen: Heimstell og Nasjonsbygging hos Hulda og Arne Garborg. Bonytt forlag, Oslo, Norway. Berggren, B. 1984. The female peasant and the male peasant. Ethnologica Scandinavica 66–77. Breeze, D. 1997. 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Norigs Ungdomslag og Student-maallaget, Oslo, Norway. Gjertsen, K.R. 1975. Arbeidsliv og Produksjon i ei Kystbygd i Nordhordland. University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. Gold, J.R., and M.M. Gold. 1995. Imagining Scotland: Tradition, Representation, and Promotion in Scottish Tourism since 1750. Scholar Press, Aldershot, UK. Hage, P. 1994. Kvite seil eller kvite lier? Dugnad 20(2):51–66. Imsen, S. 2007. The Union of Calmar: Nordic great power or northern German outpost? Pp. 471–490, In C. Ocker, M. Printy, Pr. Starenko, and P. Wallace (Eds.). Politics and Reformations: Communities, Polities, Nations, and Empires: Essays in Honor of Thomas A. Brady, Jr. Brill, Leiden, Holland. 227 K. Lykke Syse 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 Skre, Arnhild. 2011. Hulda Garborg: Nasjonal Strateg. Samlaget, Oslo, Norway. Smout, T.C. 1965. Goat keeping in the old highland economy - 4. Scottish Studies 9. Smout, T.C. 1986. A Century of the Scottish People, 1830–1950. Fontana, London, UK. Smout, T.C. 1997. Scottish Woodland History. Scottish Cultural Press, Dalkeith, Scotland, UK. Smout, T.C. 2000. Nature Contested: Environmental History in Scotland and Northern England since 1600. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Smout, T.C. 2003. People and Woods in Scotland: A History. Edinbrugh University Press, Edinburgh, UK. Syse, K.L. 2000. Lende og landskap: En analyse av Skogens fysiske landskap og landskapspersepsjon i Nordmarka fra 1900 til 1999. M.Phil. Thesis in Ethnology. Department of Culture Studies, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. Syse, K.L. 2001. Ethics in the woods. Ethics, Place, and Environment 4:226–234. Syse, K.L. 2009a. From Land use to Landscape: A Cultural History of Conflict and Consensus in Argyll: 1945–2005. Ph.D. Dissertation. Faculty of Humanities, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. Syse, K.L. 2009b. Restaurer un paysage: Échec et réussite au Centre des Landes de Bruyère de L’île de Lygra. Ethnologie française 39(2):299–309. Tipping, R., J. Buchanan, A. Davies, and E. Tisdall. 1999. Woodland biodiversity, palaeo-human ecology, and some implications for conservation management. Journal of Biogeography 26(1):33–43. Tompkins, S. 1989. Forestry in Crisis: The Battle for the Hills. Helm, London, UK. Tsouvalis, J. 2000. A Critical Geography of Britain’s State Forests. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. Visted, K., and H. Stigum. 1951. Vår Gamle Bondekultur. Cappelen, Oslo, Norway. Witoszek, N. 2011. The Origins of the “Regime of Goodness”: Remapping the Cultural History of Norway. Universitetsforlaget, Oslo, Norway. Østrem, N.O. 2006. Norsk Utvandringshistorie. Samlaget, Oslo, Norway. Endnotes 1As will be argued in the following, the term “native” when referring to trees is both elastic and changeable. 2The limitation of space demands these two stories to be presented in a condensed form in the following, and due to this, a certain simplification of hugely complex historical, geographical, and cultural issues is required. 3From http://wildlife.visitscotland.com/sitewide/featurerepos/ 264892/. 4From http://www.rannoch.net/Black%20Wood.htm. 5Grazing pressure from livestock was limited by the number of animals that the peasants were allowed to keep by the landlord. However, this measure did not protect the forest sufficiently, as shown by Smout (1965) in his article Goat keeping in the old highland economy. He demonstrates that goats were a very important animal for highland families, and the way that they grazed in woodlands meant that the natural re-growth of young trees would have been almost impossible. Although sheep have had Jackson, K. 1945. Once again Arthur’s battles. Modern Philology 43(1):44–57. Jones, O., and P. Cloke. 2002. Tree Cultures: The Place of Trees and Trees in their Place. Berg, Oxford, UK. Jørstad, E., and K. Skogen. 2010. The Norwegian red list between science and policy. Environmental Science and Policy 13(2):115–122. Lindsay, J.M. 1975. Charcoal iron smelting and its fuel supply: The example of Lorn furnace, Argyllshire, 1753– 1876. Journal of Historical Geography 1:283–298. Lorimer, H. 2000. Guns, game, and the grandee: The cultural politics of deerstalking in the Scottish Highlands. Ecumene 7:403–431. Lunden, K. 1992. Norsk Grålysing: Norsk Nasjonalisme 1770–1814 på Allmenn Bakgrunn. Samlaget, Oslo, Norway. Lunden, K. 2002. Frå Svartedauden til 17. mai: 1350– 1814. Samlaget, Oslo, Norway. Mather, A. 1998. The changing role of forests. Pp. 106–127, In B. Ilbery (Ed.). The Geography of Rural Change . Longman, Harlow, UK. Miles, H., and B. Jackman. 1991. The Great Wood of Caledon. Seven Hills Books, Bolivar, MO, USA. Nedrelid, T. 1988. Naturbruk som nøkkelsymbol. Dugnad 14(1):57–74. Nedrelid, T. 1993. Ut på Tur: På Nordmanns Vis. Cappelen, Oslo, Norway. Noss, A. 2003. Adolph Tidemand: Tilhøvet folkedraktstudier og folkelivsbilete. Pp. 61–69, In M. Ingeborg Lange (Ed.). Tidemand and Gude: Der Aander en Tindrende Sommerluft Varmt over Hardangerfjord Vande. Katalog, Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo, Norway. Ortner, S. 1973. On key symbols. American Anthropologist 75(5):1338–1346. Porteous. A. 1996. The Lore of the Forest: Myths and Legends. Senate, London, UK. Puschmann, O., and W. Dramstad. 2009. Tilbakeblikk: Dokumentasjon av Norske landskap i endring. Glimt fra Skog og Landskap 8(9):1–2. Queen Victoria. 1868. Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the Highlands, from 1848 to 1861. Edited by A. Helps. London, UK. Queen Victoria, Q.O.G.B. 1884. More Leaves from the Journal of a Life in the Highlands, from 1862 to 1882. London, UK. Rackham, O. 1986. The History of the Countryside. J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd., London, UK. Rackham, O. 2003. The Illustrated History of the Countryside. Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd., London, UK. Ramsey, P., P. Ratcliff, R. Worrel, and J. Fowler. 1998. Native Woodlands of Scotland. The Almond Consultancy, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Rival, L. 1998. The Social Life of Trees: Anthropological Perspectives on Tree Symbolism. Berg, Oxford, UK. Schama, S. 1995. Landscape and Memory. London: Harper Collins, London, UK. Seip, A-L. 1997. Nasjonen Bygges: 1830–1870. Vol. 8 Aschehougs Norgeshistorie. Aschehoug, Oslo, Norway. Skogen, K., and O. Krange. 2003. A wolf at the gate: The anti-carnivore alliance and the symbolic construction of community. Sociologia Ruralis 43(3):309–325. K. Lykke Syse 2013 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 4 228 an indisputable role in maintaining the open hills, goats have a diverse appetite and ability to digest even prickly species, like gorse and juniper, which sheep avoid. 6From http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/forest/missing/. 7Although there is evidence of beavers having been a part of the fauna in England and in the southeastern parts of Scotland, local landowners argue that there is no archaeological nor historical evidence of beavers having lived in the Knapdale area on the west coast of Scotland where they were introduced as a pilot project in 2009. 8See: http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A40765.pdf for Scottish Red Squirrel Action plan for 2006–2011. 9There are at least 2.2 million bunads in Norway (whose population is 5 million), so almost 50 percent of all Norwegians own a national costume. This statistic might seem strange when considering that the cost of a bunad is between 2.5 and 6.5 thousand Euros, and even stranger when the costume is used on average only about twice a year. The bunad is also—like the Scottish tartan popularized by Queen Victoria—a fairly innocent national symbol. However, it is—like a tailored kilt with all the trimmings—an expensive symbol, so its class-connotations are referred to more often than its nationalist connotations. For instance, the Telemark bunad, which is one of the most expensive costumes, is sometimes called the Oslo-3 costume because people living in Oslo west end can afford it, and not because they actually come from Telemark. 10Such as STILK (Spesielle tiltak i landbrukets kulturlandskap [special measures for agricultural landscapes]) introduced by the Agricultural Ministry in 1990 and SMIL (Spesielle miljømidler i landbruket [special environmental measures in agriculture]) introduced in 2004. 11A highly interesting example of this can be found in Jørstad and Skogen (2010). 12According to a survey made for Norsk Husflidslag, Olso, Norway by Norsk Gallup in 2002. 13http://www.ssb.no/emner/01/01/arealstat/.