Iceland forest info

Iceland is one of the most deforested countries in Europe. At the time of settlement (9th century) an estimated quarter of the country was covered by birch woodlands, whereas today forests only cover a little over 1%.

The forests were felled for timber, cleared for agriculture by burning and grazed by domestic animals brought by the settlers. Together with the harsh climate, volcanic activity and vulnerable soil formation, this forest clearance led to massive forest destruction and subsequent soil erosion. The necessity of engaging in some sort of remedial actions has long been known, but organised forestry as such only began around the turn of the 20th century. Early on much of the focus was on conserving the existing forest remnants, but since about 1950, the emphasis has been on afforestation through planting trees.

An article from the Iceland Forest Service contains a good overview of forests and forestry in Iceland - available here (pdf).