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Litter raking was a traditional forest use representing an interface between forestry and agriculture. In forest history, it has usually been presented as the harmful removal by peasants of biomass, which was gradually eliminated by foresters, leading to better forest preservation. Based on the example of an exceptionally well-documented case of illegal litter raking in Moravia in 1845, in this paper I argue that juxtaposing foresters and peasants in connection with litter raking masks a much more complicated reality. Neither foresters nor peasants can be interpreted as homogeneous groups because there were significant differences in the opinions and agendas of various representatives within these groups. In addition, opinions were not static on either side but could change in a discursive pattern. In a wider context, the environmental historical analysis of the Horka litter raking incident facilitates the understanding of larger societal processes that influenced past woodland management in Central Europe, and therefore current ecosystems too.

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Published In

Environment and History
Volume 29Number 3August 2023
Pages: 323 - 343


Submitted: 11 February 2021
Accepted: 4 May 2021
Published in print: August 2023
Published online: 28 September 2023


  1. traditional forest management
  2. Moravia
  3. forest conflict
  4. leaf litter raking



Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences Department of Vegetation Ecology Lidická 25/27, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic [email protected]

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Cited by

  • Addressing multiple perspectives in studying environmental changes in forest landscapes during the modernization period (18th–19th centuries), The Anthropocene Review, 10.1177/20530196231205485, (2023).
  • Traditional agroforestry on forested land: a comprehensive analysis of its distribution pattern in the 19th century, Agroforestry Systems, 10.1007/s10457-023-00894-4, 98, 1, (115-127), (2023).

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