The Icelandic government’s plans to curb climate change and build a greener Iceland through extensive afforestation. Revegetation is set to play a major role in limiting Iceland’s carbon footprint, with the potential to significantly reduce it over the next few decades. ISK6.8 billion ($6,170,000/€5,200,000) will be invested in climate change mitigants over the next five years.

In a press release from the Government Offices of Iceland (Stjórnarráð Íslands), government leaders said that they aim to lessen greenhouse gas emissions and to support the development of carbon binding techniques to ensure that Iceland will reach its stated environmental goals. 

One way to do so is to reforest Iceland.

The Icelandic Forest Service expressed optimism over the new plans to expand Iceland’s forests and cultivable land, saying in an interview with Bændablaðið that they “welcome this new plan with open arms, since [they’ve] said for years that afforestation should be undertaken again.”

Funding for the government’s afforestation project was cut in half after the 2008 financial crash, and is only now being restored. 

Working Together to Conserve Iceland’s Farmland

The Iceland Forest Service and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland are going to work together to increase public works on afforestation and soil reclamation.

“It’s a golden opportunity to coordinate our efforts and to utilize forest areas that have been cultivated. Together, we’ll be better able to organize afforestation efforts, land cultivation, and the restoration of wetlands, with an eye toward the climate benefits,” the Icelandic Forest Service said.

The project will involve working closely with farmers, who have the know-how and technology to undertake a lifetime of work. In that way, afforestation and revegetation will also increase employment opportunities for Iceland’s farmers and, perhaps, secure their position in the future, thereby preserving a historical way of life.

Growing New Trees to Nurse Old Forests

The Iceland Forest Service will take stock of potential projects to strengthen the land’s forests, which were largely cut down after 1140 to make room for farmland and grazing meadows.

“We will doubtless revisit several afforestation projects, and we’ve already made notes about the species and density of vegetation, among other variables concerned when the main goal of forest cultivation is to mitigate the impact of carbon dioxide on the environment,” Forest Service representatives continued.  

In Need of Seeds

The types of trees that will likely be cultivated are evergreens—larch, pines, and spruce—as well as birch. Aspen poplar and willow species, which would be grown from cuttings or seedlings, are also under consideration. But the initiative will need seeds, and employees of the Forest Service have been encouraged to go out and collect seeds until they have enough to plant a solid crop.

The issue of the greatest concern is finding the land to plant the trees on since soil erosion has decreased the presence of cultivable areas across the country.

Remaining aware of the delicacy of the country’s ecosystem will be key to the success of any such venture, which means allowing the trees, once planted, to begin to spread out on their own.

The State will continue to play an important role in efforts to reforest, not least by investing in nurseries, buildings, equipment, and manpower.