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2017-10-20. Vikings Razed the Forests. Can Iceland Regrow Them?

posted Oct 22, 2017, 8:54 PM by Alan Gould
By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7 and A Nw World View chapter 1. Excerpt: The country lost most of its trees long ago. Despite years of replanting, it isn’t making much progress. ...The country lost most of its trees more than a thousand years ago, when Viking settlers took their axes to the forests that covered one-quarter of the countryside. Now Icelanders would like to get some of those forests back, to improve and stabilize the country’s harsh soils, help agriculture and fight climate change. But restoring even a portion of Iceland’s once-vast forests is a slow and seemingly endless task. Despite the planting of three million or more trees in recent years, the amount of land that is covered in forest — estimated at about 1 percent at the turn of the 20th century, when reforestation was made a priority — has barely increased. ...Even in a small country like Iceland, a few million trees a year is just a drop in the bucket. ...With vegetation unable to gain much of a foothold, farming and grazing have been next to impossible in many parts of the country. And the loose soil, combined with Iceland’s strong winds, has led to sandstorms that can further damage the land — and even blast the paint off cars.... https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/20/climate/iceland-trees-reforestation.html
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