Skansen’s landraces – a part of our cultural heritage

At Skansen, preserving buildings, environments and plants as part of Sweden’s cultural heritage isn’t their only job. Their cows, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits often belong to a Swedish landrace. Preserving Swedish landraces and informing the public about them is a key part of Skansen’s work. It helps to preserve biological diversity and thereby protect a gene bank that may become important in the future.

What is a landrace?

A landrace is a domestic species that has existed in the same area for so long that it has adapted to its environment. The conditions in the Swedish countryside were often harsh and animals were forced to adapt. The landraces have therefore survived by coping with limited food and a varied diet; withstanding rain, drought periods, long winters and difficult terrain. They have also developed good protection against diseases and are good at finding their own food.

Why is it important to preserve landraces?

Their ability to adapt to harsh conditions has meant that the breeds are both smaller in size and produce less food and milk than what is considered to be economically viable in today’s intensive agriculture. As a result, the number of species has decreased. We risk losing part of our cultural heritage and important genetic resources. We do not know what kinds of animals will be needed in the future. It is therefore important to preserve these landraces, with their unique characteristics that have allowed them to adapt to the Swedish countryside. Many of these species have helped shape Sweden’s open landscape by roaming freely and grazing. This means that they are good at “keeping order” in places like nature reserves.

Did you know…?
Anyone who historically could not afford a cow could have a goat for providing milk. That is why a goat used to be called a “fattigmansko” (‘poor man’s shoe’ in Swedish).

The project creates a new viable environment and a sanctuary for natural life to develop. (15.1)