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View Diary: Icelandic Exceptionalism (211 comments)

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  •  Could use some more trees, like it used to have... (1+ / 0-)
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    The pictures show trees; but it's true that Iceland was completely forested when settled, and is now almost completely unforested.  A great deal of the arable land has taken erosion damage.  I'm curious why that isn't being addressed.  Not necessary to the economy? No snark here.

    As for food and differences in taste, I would recommend anything thinking about Iceland to acquire a Lakkris dundur candy bar and tear into it -- without reading the ingredients.  Boy will you be surprised -- at least, if you're American.

    •  Indeed it is being addressed, quite well. (2+ / 0-)
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      marsanges, dewtx

      But it takes a looong time to reforest a rugged subarctic country the size of Kentucky!  :)  Estimates are that within a few decades, for example, Iceland will be self-sufficient on timber production.

      I've seen estimates that "as much as" 25% of Iceland was forested in the past, although not necessarily at the time of the settlements. But whatever the number, there were definitely a lot more trees.  The real problem wasn't so much woodcutting as it was the sheep, which graze away new seedlings.  Today, the first step in any reforestation project is excluding the sheep from the target area.

      Also to prevent erosion, Nookta lupine was introduced to Iceland.  A very controversial decision, with lots of big pros and big cons.

      •  thanks (1+ / 0-)
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        for explaining this, interesting. In general I would tend to come down on the side against such deliberate introductions. Particlutaes matter of course. In any case, wouldnt one think that Icelands reforestation should be helped by the expected warming? For Iceland, the thing that matters is the secular warming of the north atlantic drift and I believe that will be substantial and should have an effect on icelands plant life.

        Plus, volcanic soils :) Once you get some soil life going it might become a really green island !  

        And since both the Americas and the Old Continent are only going to be farther away from you, eventually after a looong time you might end up like Kauai :)

        •  Non-natives (1+ / 0-)
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          It's tricky.  First off, one should note, they're using non-native trees, too.  Should that be condemned?  Or is it better to have some kind of forest in place, with the option of "nativizing" it more in the future?  Hard question, but I tend to support the decision of bringing in faster-growing non-natives to kickstart the forestry.

          The lupine first off does exactly what it says on the tin.  It prevents erosion and it does an excellent job of restoring the soil.  It can grow almost anywhere and it spreads on its own.  It's also beautiful when in bloom, and provides a food source for some types of birds.

          The downsides are that it does crowd out native plants - including much loved ones like blueberries.  While some animal populations increase in lupine fields, others decrease.  When not in bloom, it's rather uninteresting.  It's somewhat hard to control and it ismildly poisonous for grazing livestock if they eat too much.  It's also colonizing areas that never were successfully colonized by native plants before.

          Looping back to the upsides, the evidence suggests that after a couple decades, it tends to have restored the soil enough in an area that it can no longer compete with the natives effectively and slowly dies out.

          So yeah, it's a controversial plant, with big pros and cons.

      •  I would think the volcanos have taken a toll (0+ / 0-)

        as well.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 09:13:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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