Detailed stratigraphic analyses of sediments deposited in Lake Botjärnen, a small boreal forest lake in the shield terrain of central Sweden, clearly reflect progressively increasing human impact on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems following settlement and establishment of an iron industry in the 17th century. Rising frequencies of pollen and spores from light-demanding plants provide evidence of extensive forest clearance for charcoal and timber production, which peaked in the early 20th century. An associated increase in catchment erosion is reflected by changing carbon and nitrogen elemental content and carbon–isotope composition of sediment organic matter and by increased magnetic susceptibility of the sediments. Records of air-borne pollutants (lead, zinc and sulphur) can be correlated to the development of local and regional mining and metal industry as inferred from historical accounts. Rapid recession of the iron industry led to re-forestation and recovery of the aquatic nutrient status to pre-industrial conditions over the past 100 years. The chronology of the sediment succession, which is based on 210Pb and 137Cs radionuclide data in combination with radiocarbon dating, is confirmed by historical lead pollution trends established for the region. \u
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