Traditional landscapes of the archipelago

Back in the day it was common for the island inhabitants to keep sheep and cows to produce meat, wool and milk. On some islands there were even horses for the farm work. The animals spent their summers on pastures, and because food was limited on the rocky islands, animals had to be transported from island to island to graze. As fodder for winter, the islanders reaped hay and collected bundles of leafy branches.

Unique habitats have developed as a result of consistent grazing and reaping. Plenty of plant species thrive only on meadows and pastures and attract a special selection of butterflies, beetles and other invertebrates. Without grazing and reaping, many of the smaller species disappear as larger plants cover them.

Meadow plants are not very good at competing of light and nutrients and therefore benefit when grazing animals gobble up the bigger plants. But how do these small plants avoid being eating themselves?

Many of them taste bad, are slightly poisonous, have small thorns, are tightly attached to the soil or are in other ways troublesome titbits. Some plants sprout along the ground or grow their leaves so low that being hit by a set of teeth or a scythe does not bother them.

To preserve these traditional landscapes and species, animals are still kept on pastures on some of the islands of Archipelago Sea, although the upkeep of animals is no longer an important part of livelihood. Without meadows and pastures many rare species might end up homeless and disappear for good.


Take a picture of a scenery you like and show or send it to three people.

Did you know that horse was a very important working animal in the old days? Islands that were suitable pastures for horses were sometimes named accordingly. Take a look at the chart and see if you can find many islands that have been named after a horse (häst=horse)!

Can you find a crab apple tree?