Restoration of Degraded and Desertified Lands: Experience from Iceland

  • Sveinn RunólfssonEmail author
  • Anna María Ágústsdóttir


Land degradation and desertification are a real threat to the future of human civilization in addition to being large contributors to the risks of climate change. Iceland has a long history of desertification and land degradation since its settlement by humans about 1,100 years ago. Organized battle against destruction of woodlands and soil erosion in Iceland began with a law that was set in 1907, establishing the Icelandic Soil Conservation Service (ISCS). Experience from the last 100 years shows that the key to success is reaching people through involvement and education using participatory approaches to soil conservation. The current goals of the ISCS are mitigation of land degradation, revegetation of eroded land, and attaining sustainable land use.

Climate mitigation through carbon sequestration in soil and vegetation with land restoration and revegetation must give full consideration to multiple goals, including those of the conventions of combating desertification and conserving biological diversity. In Iceland carbon sequestration is regarded as an added benefit of land restoration efforts, but not a goal in itself. Ecosystem restoration and carbon sequestration through revegetation demonstrates the synergic effects of land degradation and desertification on other environmental goals.


Desertification Land degradation Carbon sequestration Land restoration Land management Afforestation 



Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change


Icelandic Soil Conservation Service


National Inventory Report


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sveinn Runólfsson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anna María Ágústsdóttir
    • 1
  1. 1.Icelandic Soil Conservation ServiceGunnarsholtIceland

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