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Explore the Southern Deciduous Region of Switzerland

Explore the Southern Deciduous Region of Switzerland

Last updated: Mar 04, 2021 19:39 | Oct 12, 2017 19:39
Paula M. Graham

Table of Contents

Characteristic habitat types in the southern deciduous forest regionWorth protecting in the southern deciduous forest region

The southern deciduous forest region (nemoral region) includes the western parts of Bohuslän and Halland, the whole of Skåne and southern Blekinge and southern Öland.

The region then continues into eastern Denmark and further down into Central Europe. The nemoral area in Sweden is thus actually the northern border of the continental deciduous forest. The region is characterized by a great wealth of tree and shrub species. Here are the country's largest occurrences of noble deciduous trees such as oak, beech, elm, hornbeam, ash, maple and linden. Birch, aspen and pine can also form stands, especially on leaner soils. The spruce forests that exist are mainly planted. The natural southern boundary of the spruce is otherwise considered to run at the boundary of the boreonemoral region.

The human presence is noticeable not only by an increased occurrence of spruce but also by the fact that the region as a whole is strongly cultivated and cultivated. This is especially clear in Skåne's coastal and plain area, where there is not much left of the original deciduous forest. The biological diversity associated with tree environments in these areas is found mainly in connection with large estates, castles and farm environments as well as alleys, parks and various forest remains scattered in the landscape.

In Skåne, there is also a real forest area that is also connected to Western Sweden's coastal forests. It extends from Hanö Bay in the east and further in a northwesterly direction up to Bohuslän. The reason for this distribution is that it is the border area between the Nordic bedrock area and the sedimentary soils of Central Europe. Apart from the coastal plains of Halland, the terrain is hilly and here are also the largest deciduous forests, mainly beech and oak. Skåne's ridges are part of this habitat type.

The mountainous parts of the west coast landscape are also characterized by oak groves. There are also large heather moors that were created after previous large deforestations. Many heather moors are today replanted with forest.

Blekinge's coastal and intermediate area is also very leafy, not least with oak that goes all the way out into the archipelago. The hornbeam is in some places stock-forming and in Listerland there is Sweden's largest hornbeam stock.

On Södra Öland, the peat soil dominates, ie open soils with a thin crust on a limestone base. On sediment-rich soils, however, there are deciduous trees of many tree species and in some places real groves have formed.

Characteristic habitat types in the southern deciduous forest region

Meadow beech forest

Meadow beech forests grow on nutrient-rich soil, often on old private land. In the tree and shrub layer there is often an element of oak, ash, elm, hornbeam and maple. In the spring, the ground is covered with large carpets of white anemones. Among the summer's herbs and grasses, it is mainly muskwort, yellow willow, grove, tooth root, resin acid, chives, horsetail and grouse that form large stands. On slopes with moist, calcareous brown soils, beech forests grow with an even more lush soil vegetation. In early spring, white anemone, yellow anemone and spring onion bloom. In May, ramsons form large white flower mats while forest bingle dominates in summer. The meadow beech forest can also house more exclusive grove plants such as shrubbery, forest barley, white litter, moon violet and grove willow.

Beech Forest in Skåne


Hedbok forests grow on well-drained, acidic brown soils and pods soils and are the completely dominant beech forest type in Sweden. The humus type is thin and the soil is often covered by a thick layer of book leaves. The soil vegetation is therefore quite sparse. Kruståtel, spring fry, pill starling, forest star and blueberry are most common. On slightly better soil, resin acid and squirrel berries grow. The sparse vascular plant flora stands in contrast to a very species-rich flora of arboreal lichens that develop in old heather beech forests in sheltered locations.

Meadow oak forest

The meadow oak forest grows on more fertile land than the heath forest and the soil is usually a brown soil. The crown of the oak lets through a lot of light, which benefits a species-rich shrub and field layer flora. In the spring, the ground is covered with white and blue anemones. On wetter soils, celandine grows. In summer, bush star flower often dominates. Other common species are tooth root, lundslok, lundgröe, lily of the valley and on richer soils forest bingle.

At the coast, ivy and honeysuckle are characteristic elements of the groves. Forest oak dominates the tree layer, especially among the older trees. There is often a mixture of several other tree species. Hazel often forms dense stands under the oaks. However, the proportion of hazel varies greatly, among other things depending on previous tradition. Other shrubs such as hawthorn, olvon and forest ryegrass occur.


Hedekskogen occurs mainly on shallow rocky soils and on lean moraine and sandy soils. In the coastal belt, the stands are often designed as low-growing scrub forest. Both forest and mountain oak are common. The mountain oak dominates among the scrub forests. Birch, aspen, rowan and pine are common, and sometimes there is also beech, hornbeam or spruce in the tree layer. Juniper bushes are common on rocky soils. On wetter soils, brackish wood is usually found. Wild honeysuckle is a typical feature of the coastal forests.

In the field layer, there are almost always crustaceans, but blueberries and lingonberries are also common. Other common species are lily of the valley, squirrel berries, resin acid, forest star, meadow shovel, stone marten and forest bream. Sometimes eagle owls form larger populations. Oak forests that have been grazed recently have a species-rich field layer with meadow and pasture species such as cuckoo, teveronica, small bluebell, strawberry, meadow sorrel, redwood and spring spruce.

Hardwood forest in mountain slopes

The steep terrain means that these forests are often quite unaffected by humans. The tree layer can be rich in species with most deciduous trees present. Linden and maple are common on block lands. Lundfloran is rich with several rather unusual species such as moon violet, magic grape, hollyhock, horsetail, forest fescue and shrubbery. The lichen and moss flora is often rich and worthy of protection in noble deciduous forests.

Mixed deciduous forest in level terrain

Mixed deciduous forests usually grow on calcareous brown soils. The tree layer is a mixture of different deciduous trees that vary from stand to stand. On moist soil, ash and elm are included, on healthier soils, linden, hornbeam, oak and maple dominate. The stands are usually small but are characterized by a species-rich field layer with many otherwise unusual grove plants such as undergrowth, wound healing, spring pea and lung herb.

Ash-elm forest

Ash elm groves grow on moist, nutrient-rich soils. The field layer is of the high herb type and is usually dominated by forest bingle, cherry bowl or ramsons. The stands often show a magnificent spring flora with white and yellow anemone, celandine and hollyhock. Most elm stocks have been affected by Dutch elm disease since the 1980s. The more moist the soil, the higher the proportion of ash in the tree layer.


The hornbeam often occurs in pure stands but also mixed with oak, hazel, linden, beech and birch. Avenbok forest grows on brown soils and in field layers there are grove species such as white anemone, blue anemone, tooth root, lily of the valley, bush star flower and undergrowth. In the stands by the coast there is a marked element of ivy that sometimes climbs up the tree trunks.

Tree-bearing meadows and deciduous meadow remains with felled trees

Claimed meadow land with felled trees is unusual and only remains in patches in the old agricultural landscape. The field layer consists of a mixture of typical meadow species and more shade-loving grove plants. In some areas, the old hamling trees are still a characteristic feature of the landscape. We meet them in many overgrown fields, but also around farms and crofts, by the stone fence and cairns. Ash and linden occupy a special position and a significant part of the country's old ash and linden trees bear traces of hamling. Elm, hornbeam, maple, beech, oak and birch have also been hampered to some extent. Old hamling trees are a key environment for the lichen and moss flora and are also important for wood insects and hole-building birds.

Worth protecting in the southern deciduous forest region

The southern deciduous forest region is the region where land use and tree species composition have changed the most. Here are some examples of what more is needed in the southern deciduous forest region:

Hardwood forest with high natural values

The advent of the deciduous forest law, 1984, halted the decline in deciduous forests, but compared with 200 years ago, only remnants of a previously very widespread habitat type remain. The most interesting deciduous forests for nature conservation are those that contain great variation in tree species and ages and a large amount of dead wood. That is, forests that have not been managed or that have grown back after grazing. Such forests are today mostly in the reserve, but there can be a long way between the core values, so an important nature conservation strategy can be to expand and strengthen existing areas. Decommissioning spruce and creating new deciduous forests that are managed for nature conservation purposes is another measure.


Before the large ditches took over, this was a very common forest type in the southern deciduous forest region. On moist soils, new sticky bean generations will emerge if the tradition is abandoned. Then it is possible to select areas where deciduous swamp forests can be recreated.

Rough old trees and dead

More old and coarse deciduous trees are needed in the southern deciduous forest region. Identifying core values, "veteranizing" trees and ensuring that new generations of deciduous trees can develop into "giant trees" are important nature conservation measures. Free-standing old oaks are especially valuable. Veteranization means that the aging of the trees is accelerated, for example by barking or damaging them in various ways.

Paula M. Graham | Paula is a writer and editor who works as a freelancer. She covers subjects such as banking, insurance, and digital marketing in his writing. Paula is a bookworm who also enjoys podcasts and freshly made coffee.


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