Agricultural landscape of southern Oland
The southern part of Oland, an island in the Baltic Sea off the south-eastern coast of Sweden, is dominated by a vast limestone plateau.
People have lived there for some five thousand years, adapting their way of life to the physical constraints of the island. As a consequence, the landscape is unique, and there is abundant evidence of a continuous human settlement from prehistoric times to the present.
This outstanding human settlement has made optimum use of diverse landscape types on a single island. Limestone bedrock and a warm, dry climate have set limits for how the islanders can use their landscape.
Earlier, the land was divided into infields and pastures. The infields lay closest to the village and consisted of arable lands and meadows. The pastures – the alvar plains and the coastal lands – were used for grazing.
With the transformation of agriculture in the 19th century, this distinction disappeared on the mainland and elsewhere in Europe. Instead of being part of the agricultural system, pastures were used for timber production. In Oland, barren soil ruled this out, and the old division, with linear villages in ‘lawful location’, was retained and is easily discernible today.
Southern Oland is a living agrarian landscape where villages, arable lands, coastal lands and alvar plains make up this World Heritage property.
Several windmills are seen in the agricultural landscape of southern Oland, a UNESCO site in Sweden