Designating Þórsmörk in the Icelandic highlands as a nature reserve has had an astonishing impact on reforestation efforts, RÚV reports. The highland oasis was designated a nature reserve in 1918 and given over to the custodianship of the Icelandic Forest Service shortly after. Photos of the area taken 50 years apart now show dense birch forests where once there was very little vegetation, and particularly few trees.
The Icelandic Forest Service began reforestation efforts in Þósmörk in 1920. Farmers with property there gave up their land rights when the area became a nature reserve. Originally, the area was densely forested, but after years of grazing and logging, the vast majority of this vegetation had disappeared.
Hreinn Óskarsson, division head of the Icelandic Forest Service’s coordination division, will be giving a presentation on the 100-year preservation history of the birch forests in Þórsmörk at the end of the month. The presentation will include a number of stunning before and after photos taken most recently by Hreinn, but formerly by Einar Þ. Guðjohnsen, who was one of the pioneers behind the Icelandic Touring Association and later, the founder of the Útivist Travel Association.
See a sample of the before and after photos on RÚV’s website, here.