Simpson I, Gudmundsson G, Thomson AM & Cluett J (2004) Assessing the role of winter grazing in historic land degradation, Myvatnssveit, northeast Iceland. Geoarchaeology, 19 (5), pp. 471-502. https://doi.org/10.1002/gea.20006
This paper assesses the contribution of historical and traditional winter grazing to long-term land degradation in northeast Iceland. To do so, indicators of soil erosion from two contrasting historical winter grazing areas, set in a tephrochronological framework, are compared against their temporal and regional land degradation contexts. The observations made indicate distinctive and different landscape responses to historical winter grazing depending on location. In both study areas, there is an accelerated level of wind and water erosion with settlement at ca. A.D. 874 through to A.D. 1477. One of these areas had a subsequent reduction in erosion rates to considerably below the regional average, possibly as a result of adaptive land management; the second, more inherently sensitive area, is now subarctic desert. These findings confirm early land management practices as a major factor in Icelandic land degradation, they contribute to explanations of early settlement success and failure, and highlight the significance of historical approaches in addressing contemporary issues of land degradation and conservation responses.
Geoarchaeology: Volume 19, Issue 5