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Shrubs in autumn colors, Southern Iceland
Iceland has undergone extensive deforestation since Vikings settled in the ninth century. At the time of human settlement about 1140 years ago, birch forest and woodland covered 'at least 25%' of Iceland's land area. The settlers began by cutting down the forests and burning scrubland to create fields and grazing land. Deforestation did not end in Iceland until the middle of the 20th century. Afforestation and revegetation has restored small areas of land.