Martti Veldi (Estonian University of Life Sciences);
Simon Bell (Estonian University of Life Sciences)

Historical GIS:
Application of Map-based Biography to the Laeva Sovkhoz/State Farm, Estonia

In the MODSCAPES project the concept of historical GIS is one of the practical research tools to detect, map, and analyse large-scale landscape changes caused by modernist rural development schemes. Historical GIS enables us to synthesise human interactions with their surrounding landscape on temporal and spatial axes.

In this paper historical GIS is applied to create a map-based biography of one of the case study examples, Laeva, which was a collective state farm or sovkhoz in South Estonia between 1975 and 1993. Through combining historical maps and archival data we followed the process of collectivisation in Laeva.

The Laeva sovkoz was a result of nearly 30 years of error and trial in collective farming, which in the area started with the establishment of seven small kolkhozes in 1948 and 1949. In the 1950s the small kolkhozes were amalgamated into larger and more effective agricultural units. After several mergers and reorganisation of production, in 1975 the sovkhoz of Laeva was established. In the second half of the 1970s the sovkhoz became an experimental cattle and pig breeding research institute of the Estonian Agricultural Academy.

We also compared the land use dynamics of the area before, during, and after the collectivisation. The results showed that during the collectivisation the pressure to cultivate land was intensified, and through extensive melioration wetlands were drained, and forested.

Full-text available here: DOI: 10.1051/SHSCONF/20196307001