University of Gothenburg

Cultural landscapes

Managing and developing the historical and biological values of landscapes requires practical knowledge. The Craft Laboratory works to document, develop, and convey knowledge about traditional farming - and about modern methods and tools that replicate traditional care and leave an equivalent footprint on the landscape. Sustainability aspects are central, as well as a holistic approach to the management of the landscape.

Our research areas


The Craft Laboratory works with traditional agriculture to draw knowledge from periods when work was done entirely by hand, but also from the early mechanisation of the 20th century. This work includes practical skills regarding land preparation, sowing, and harvesting as well as knowledge about the diversity of crops and cultivars that have been kept in cultivation.

Photo: Hjalmar Croneborg

Arboriculture and pollarding

Traditional use of trees and shrubs is all about utility, where each type of tree and quality had its area of ​​use: timber, firewood, wickers, leaves for fodder, etc. There are many questions to be answered in the work of keeping alive the knowledge of how to care for trees and shrubs in a traditional way.

Photo: Fabian Mebus

Farmstead environments

The farm as a coherent unit is an important part of a landscape. The farmstead includes buildings and gardens but also other parts that connect to the use of the landscape. The farm in focus provides a holistic approach across several subject areas.

Photo: Fabian Mebus

Networks for craft professionals

Meeting and exchanging experiences is important for developing new knowledge and for identifying needs for future research.

The Craft Laboratory coordinates networks for craft professionals within our main focus areas: building crafts, cultural landscapes and gardening crafts.


Different types of traditional fencing and their significance in the landscape is one of the Craft Laboratory's knowledge areas. There has been a rich variety in local fencing traditions across Sweden, including stone walls, wooden fence yards, rice and wicker fence yards, and various combinations of them.

Photo: Hjalmar Croneborg


Grazing and grazing animals are still present in today's agriculture to a fairly large extent, but in modern ways. The Craft Laboratory examines what we can learn from past grazing practices. It is, for example, possible to achieve several goals at the same time by moving the animals repeatedly during a season: good animal health and animal growth, living topsoil, and well-managed natural and cultural environmental values.

Photo: Hjalmar Croneborg

Meadows and haymaking

A meadow is a piece of land where the grass and herbs are harvested, and where no ploughing or fertilizing is done. There are many different types of meadows and ways of haymaking and other uses. The Craft Laboratory is involved in projects that investigate traditional methods and we experiment with participatory methods for safeguarding and management of meadows.

Photo: Hjalmar Croneborg

Outlaying lands and forests

What we today call a forest landscape used to be managed as an integral part of the farmstead’s household and with many uses, as opposed to the single focus of modern forestry. Primarily, grazing was carried out, but the forest was also used for timber harvesting of various kinds, leaf harvesting, outcroppings, coaling, and much more. The Craft Laboratory works in collaborative projects to preserve and develop knowledge linked to outlying lands.

Photo: Hjalmar Croneborg

Prescribed burning

Burning grass in permanent grassland is a long-standing management practice. It is particularly effective when the land has been left undisturbed for a longer period and needs to be restored to grazing conditions. It can be used to manage woody plants, not least heather. Prescribed burning requires knowledge and careful preparation to be safe and to give the desired results, and this is where traditional knowledge may contribute to contemporary fire mitigation strategies.

Photo: Hjalmar Croneborg

Traditional land use

Much of today's work in the landscape field is tied to particular types of land. At the same time, it is important to be able to look up and see how different land use types interact. The Craft Laboratory is working to develop knowledge of how the whole landscape can be managed, with a focus on traditional land use. 

Photo: Fabian Mebus

Transhumance settlements and uses of landscapes in subarctic regions

In the inland areas of northern and central Sweden, homestead farming combined with seasonal transhumance settlements where cattle were allowed to graze in peripheral forests and mountains has played a decisive role in the livelihood of the people until modern times. Farms located close to the mountains in the subarctic and arctic regions have special conditions and farming is carried out side by side with reindeer herding, which has been practiced for many hundreds of years by the indigenous Saami population.


Deepen your knowledge

The Department of Conservation offers study programmes in gardening and landscape crafts on bachelor's level (in Swedish) and on master’s level. The International Master´s Programme in Conservation is designed to deepen your knowledge about the multiple layers of meaning of cultural heritage, and offers a great deal of flexibility if you are interested in specialising within gardening and landscapes.