A blast furnace and the base of a roasting kiln’s base (background) at the Leineperi iron works in Kullaa. Photo: Leena Koivisto
Grass field around cairn foundations at Vainriihenpönkkä in Lappi. Photo: Leena Koivisto
The maintenance of archaeological sites focusses both on man-made structures and on the natural environment at the sites. The relationship between man and nature is characterized by interaction: the environment influences the development of culture, among other things by controlling settlement location and subsistence activities.
On the other hand man transforms the environment, for example watercourses and the vegetation. In archaeological site areas the most valuable natural treasures to preserve are the biotopes developed through human influence. The aim of maintenance is to revive and enhance the features of the environment developed through history.
Traditional agrarian landscapes are the natural environment for some of the archaeological sites, especially in southwestern Finland and in Häme, where human impact on the environment has been considerable since the Iron Age. A traditional landscape is the kind of landscape that has been formed through primary production or other early modes of subsistence. Built-up traditional landscapes include, for example, historical buildings and archaeological structures. Traditional biotopes are characterized by sets of organisms that have adapted to human activity. They differ from pristine conditions and include meadows and pasture lands.
Old style agriculture, especially the kind characterized by the use of natural meadows, resulted in the development of traditional biotopes. Around the birth of Christ many of the riverside areas in southern and western Finland were cleared for pasture and cultivation, which resulted in the immigration of strongly anthropochorous plant species originating in the steppe area, such as the dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris). Some of the steppe species have subsequently extended their distribution outside the Iron Age settlement area, while others have been totally dependent on Iron Age conditions for their distribution.
In traditional agriculture winter fodder for the cattle was cut to a large extent from natural meadows. At the end of the 19th century natural meadows were replaced by sown hay fields. The final coup de grâce to natural meadows was delivered by the mechanization of agriculture. Open landscape was still widespread in the 1950s, but since then, forest has rapidly taken over the meadows. Simultaneously, the polymorphism of the vegetation and fauna has decreased. It is, however, possible to revive traditional biotopes through well organized care.