Forestry and Peatlands Iceland
Vulnerabilities and benefits
An increase in summer temperatures and the length of the growing season will doubtlessly increase annual growth rates and coverage of both natural and managed forests in Iceland. It was recently shown that the downy birch tree lines are generally moving upwards in Iceland and its growth rate close to the tree lines has increased manifold since in the 1970s (1).
An increase in winter temperature could, however, do more damage than good, especially for exotic tree species used in managed forests and as ornamental garden plants originating from cold and continental climate. Those are generally not well adapted to mild, oceanic, winter climate. Further winter warming could thus lead to untimely start of tree growth in late winters or early springs, with increased danger for frost damage. On the other hand severe frost periods in the spring will decrease drastically because of higher ocean temperature in the Arctic ocean north of Iceland (1).
During the past two decades, an increasing number of new pests have emerged that can cause damage to trees. This has been linked to the climate warming that has taken place during the same period, but other factors may also be partly responsible (1).
The overall effect on forest propagation and production is, however, expected to be positive (1). Globally, based on both satellite and ground-based data, climatic changes seemed to have a generally positive impact on forest productivity since the middle of the 20th century, when water was not limiting (2).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Iceland.
- Ministry for the Environment of Iceland (2010)
- Boisvenue et al. (2006)