05. d – Halltorp Nature Reserve

Halltorps hage on Öland, with its ancient oaks, is well known and well visited – and enormously rich in species. The reserve and its immediate surroundings are home to the most red-listed species in the entire country. Text: Charlotta Larsson
eklåga e N omr

In the project, close to 100 hectares of deciduous broadleaf woodland have been restored, of which 13 hectares into hay meadow. This work was preceded by extensive preparations and implemented in stages, in close consultation with species experts.

Preparatory studies

Several years before the project began, various studies were conducted, such as inventories of trees, hymenoptera and flies, reviews of archived documents, compilations of species finds and a dendrochronological study of a selection of trees.

The results were then analysed in the reserve’s management council, which consists of species experts for various organism groups. The discussions led to a partially new management direction and a new management plan, which includes individual plans for the reserve’s valuable trees.

Grazing plan

To determine how many more grazing animals are needed for management in the reserve, a grazing plan was produced. In conjunction with this, boundaries between enclosures were adjusted. Today the entire reserve is maintained by grazing cattle and sheep. The only exception is the Landsborg slope – a steep section with rare woodland grasses that would be harmed by grazing.


The restorations were done in steps, with ongoing involvement from species experts in the management council. The experts gave their opinions on the measures planned, and reviewed the completed clearing and felling work, to ensure that red-listed species had been properly considered.

The restoration work was done using handheld tools such as chainsaws and brushcutters. Waste from clearing was removed with a small forwarder, tractor trailer or horse. Because the area has sensitive loamy soil, these transports were only possible in late summer and early autumn.

Return to grazed, treed, mosaic pasture

In the northern part of the reserve, there is a 17-hectare area that had been long neglected and therefore was overgrown. On the land that slopes westward, down towards Kalmar Strait, there are older divaricate oaks, older linden and hazel, as well as large aspen and plenty of dead wood.

After restoration, all the older oaks stand more open, and bushes have been left as wind protection. Some linden and maple were topped, for better vertical stratification, and will later be pollarded. Younger oaks were veteranised. Some ivy trunks were trimmed back, to help the old oaks whose crowns were completely covered, and because the ivy catches the wind, which can cause the tree to blow over in a heavy storm. Elevated rocky outcrops with oak and hazel were left mostly untouched, and the south side of heavily overgrown moist corridors now receive more sunlight.

In the eastern, more woodlanded part, clearing has been done around the older trees. In autumn, when the cleared material was to be hauled away, the rains started early. To stabilise the forwarder’s paths, blasting mats and large amounts of cleared material were left. The next stage in the work at Halltorp is to restore the hydrology. Several ditches will be filled, so the spring floods will return to their original routes down to Kalmar Strait.

From deciduous broadleaf woodland to meadow

In the eastern part of the reserve, a 3.5-hectare area has been restored to hay meadow. This area was unmaintained and completely overgrown with thin deciduous trees and bushes. Now the area is semi-open, with solitary oaks, a few groups of older aspen and younger, recently pollarded ash. To protect the meadow from the wind, some larger bushes were left.

Several hundred stumps were ground down. After that, the meadow was mown three times a year, to avoid unwanted vegetation which can turn into fertiliser. In the open sections, there are already plants that benefit from mowing, and several orchid species. The abundant flowering is an important resource for many of the reserve’s endangered insects, that live on nectar and pollen.

Conclusions and valuable experiences

An area as special as Halltorp requires extra time for planning and coordination of measures. It has been valuable to have an active management council that the manager has been able to discuss measures with. Also, having skillful and engaged contractors is a huge advantage.