Hello scientists, students…The world!
We are Mimmi and Elin, two jägmästarstudenter (Swedish forestry students), who are going to share our world with you here. We got to know each other about one year ago, at the Euroforester program at SLU, when we took a course in temperate forestry and visited Denmark, Germany and France. The trip was awesome! Since then we have taken different courses, Elin went to Russia to study forest policy and to Poland to visit the near natural temperate forest, Bialowieza. Mimmi went to Nepal to study tropical silviculture and to trek in the Himalayas. To conclude, we focused our education on international silviculture and ecology. During our studies we have been out in the field quite a lot, but our education has not yet included an internship, so we decided it was time to make it happen and explore possible internship opportunities!
We contacted the Icelandic Forest Research and asked if we could come and help with their inventories this coming summer 2015. Icelandic Forest Research was most open to the idea and welcomed us as research assistants. Cool - we are going to Iceland! We submitted several funding applications to Kungl. Skytteanska Samfundets Islandsstipendium (funding available to students from Umeå University or the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences to study in Iceland) and booked airline tickets. By chance, we happened to meet some friendly people involved with NB forest, and got invited to write about our experiences being a part of the Icelandic national inventory.
The view from the forest inventory workers house
We arrived yesterday, the 7th of June 2015, and during the flight across the Atlantic sea from Sweden, the magazines where filled with information about Iceland. Let’s see: Iceland is famous for sand and lava fields, geysers, a volcano that destroyed the time schedule for overworked businessmen and some wild, rustic Icelandic horses. Iceland also gained some popularity in…what?! The Icelandic people believe in elves, eat sheep brains and fish. However, forests are not the first thing that often comes to mind when picturing Iceland. This is quite understandable, considering that the forest cover on Iceland is only about 2% of the land area.
But at the time of settlement by the Vikings, around 1140 years ago, the forest cover was approximately 25-40%. In sheltered locations the forests consisted of birch and coastal zones were often covered by willow-rich forests, whilst higher elevations were covered with willow tundra. At the time, the Vikings cut down the forests to create grazing lands as well as to obtain firewood and building material. The deforestation continued until the middle of the 20th century, and at that time the natural birch forest cover had decreased to 0,5-1,5% of the land area. Since the 1950s, Iceland has been implementing afforestation, i.e. reclamation and restoration of its forests.
Our first visit in an Icelandic birth forest
Today, Icelandic Forest Research is responsible for the national inventory of these forests. The main reason for the national inventory is to monitor the carbon sequestration in Iceland. During the last 10 years, forestry students from a number of countries in Europe have been invited to work as field assistants within this project.
Look forward to reporting back in a few weeks when we have started our internship!
/ Mimmi and Elin