Fögur er hlíðin - Fair is the blooming meadow

image of Fögur er hlíðin - Fair is the blooming meadow

A study of traditional Scandinavian and Baltic rural landscapes and biotopes and their survival in modern times. The history behind the book-title “Fögur er hlíðin – Fair is the blooming meadow” extends back to the Viking hero Gunnar, who lived in southern Iceland in a beautiful flatland area under the influence of a large river, in a farm by a blooming hillside. In essence, Gunnar’s story is a description of good, well kept land and traditional farming methods. However, everything was disrupted because of a dispute between Gunnar’s wife and his friend’s wife. These strong-minded ladies had been killing each others’ slaves and Gunnar became involved and therefore he was doomed to leave his beloved country. On his way down to the ship, he looked back to his farm under the sunny hillside and proclaimed: “The hillside is so beautiful - I will not go, I will stay”. So he stayed, and was soon killed by his enemies because he was breaking the law by not leaving the country. This phrase has been used throughout the centuries to indicate love for the land, love for one’s roots, background and for the countryside in later years. But do we nowadays want to maintain or abandon our cultural heritage - the blooming meadows?



Status of rural landscapes in the Nordic and Baltic areas

The decrease in the biological diversity of agricultural environments is one of the core problems in European nature conservation. The traditional biotopes of the Nordic and Baltic countries belong, both by their fl ora and fauna, to the most varied habitat types. However, the area of traditional biotopes has decreased, along with increased overgrowth as well as changes in land use and in traditional management methods, to only a fraction of the original. This has led to hundreds of species becoming threatened and to a strong decline of even those species that earlier were abundant. Although these biotopes are small in size compared to grassland areas in other parts of Europe, their traditional land use history is unique and very long, usually spanning several hundreds and even thousands of years.


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