SoilSoc Research

Research projects Thesis abstracts

Restoration of ecosystem functions on severely degraded land

Institute / Organisation / Unit: Agricultural University of Iceland ( and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (

Research director: Dr. Olafur Arnalds Agricultural University of Iceland.

Project Leader: Berglind Orradóttir Agricultural University of Iceland.

Other researchers: Dr. Ása L. Aradóttir Agricultural University of Iceland, Brita Berglund Agricultural University of Iceland, Sunna Áskelsdóttir Agricultural University of Iceland, Dr. Kristín Svavarsdóttir Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (stating date summer 2007).

Discription:The aim of restoration of severely degraded land is to restore the functions that drive the ecosystem, such as nutrient cycling, water storage and ground cover. The goal of the project is to define the development of soil and vegetation factors in restoration efforts of desertified land in Iceland, and to establish the relationship between soil and vegetation development and ecosystem functions. A multidisciplinary approach is used, utilizing a carefully designed land reclamation research area in South Iceland. The main areas of investigation are: 1) nutrients and biomass; 2) hydrology; 3) cryoturbation and surface stability; 4) soil parameters and soil development; and 5) vegetation dynamics. Areas treated in 1999 and untreated controls are sampled for analysis of several soil parameters. Climatic parameters are monitored, as well as frost and surface stability and infiltration. Soil water samples are gathered and analyzed for both nutrients and ions affecting clay formation. Soil microbial biomass is measured. Vegetation composition and colonization dynamics of selected plant species are studied and correlated with soil factors. An attempt is made to define the factors that control the ecosystem function and stability in relation to restoration efforts in Iceland.