Traveling to Iceland these days one will choose this destination not only for hot springs and waterfalls but also because of the harsh landscape. At first glance, the lack of trees seems fitting due to the rough climate. When the first settlers arrived in the 9th century the island looked different. Reports from that time suggest that the island was once covered in dense forests, from the coast to the mountains. As in most countries in Europe the forest was cut down when the population grew. Wood was needed for construction and heating. The sheep that roamed freely on the island loved the seedlings and prevented the forest from regrowing. In the following, the soil had no grip, eroded and was washed away.
Today there are serious efforts to afforest the island. The Icelandic Forest Service is doing research on trees suitable for the changing climate and offers strategies and advice to local forest associations. Schoolchildren as well as unemployed and volunteers are included in the process of making the island the place it once was. Growing forests is beneficial to local communities as well as the whole Icelandic economy. On a geographic level forests slow down winds and help to steady the soil. On a economic scale the forests can offer jobs and help reduce wood imports, making Iceland more independent in this sector.