One of the goals of Work Package (WP) 3 of HERCULES is to reconstruct and assess the shortterm changes and dynamics of cultural landscapes, using a case study approach. In this deliverable, we aim at describing and understanding how landscapes changed in six HERCULES Study Municipalities (SM) since 1850, i.e. Colmenar Viejo (Spain), Lenk (Switzerland), Börje (Sweden), Plomari & Gera (Greece), Alatskivi & Peipsiääre (Estonia) and Mobdury (Great Britain). Whereas the description is based on the map comparison presented in D3.2, additional sources of information were needed to better understand the so called driving forces of the changes determined. We used secondary literature, statistical information and oral history interviews to assess the local historical context, the changes perceived, but also to determine which actors were influential for the changes observed. Abandonment shows to be the most important process across all SMs included and it was especially dominant in the 20th century. Afforestation, deforestation, expansion of agriculture and intensification of agriculture were also widespread. Whereas afforestation shows an increasing trend, deforestation and expansion of agriculture show a moderate, and intensification of agriculture even a strong decreasing trend. The SMs differ greatly regarding their average rate of change, with the fastest SM (Colmenar Viejo) showing about seven times higher rates of change than the slowest SM (Modbury). However, all SMs depict great temporal variability of change in the course of the study period. Overall, it is interesting to note that the latest periods was in no SM showing the highest rates of change, but even included the least dynamic period in one SM (Lenk). We also evaluate if certain factors seem to be especially suitable to cause change or persistence across the different SMs. Infrastructural developments, (macro-) economic shifts and crises, and increasing population numbers seem to have the potential to trigger massive landscape changes. However, the specific context determines if and how such developments have an impact on the landscape. An economic crises triggering emigration, such as in the case of Lenk 1876 to 1914, might well lead to agricultural abandonment, which however in the case of pastures in harsh alpine environment might not immediately lead to forest expansion. Abandonment due to the conversion of a community structure from (subsistence) farming into commercial and industrial activities might however trigger rapid changes. Such changes can be largely facilitated by infrastructural developments, enabling easy commuting to nearby centers. Our study reflects the diversity and complexity of landscape change processes across Europe. The number of case studies does not allow to draw general conclusions, but enables to formulate further hypotheses for research and feedback to the local communities regarding their specific development.
2016. , 64 p.