Human impact and landscape degradation on the Faroe Islands

Gina E. Hannon, Stefan Wåstegård, Emily Bradshaw, Richard H.W. Bradshaw

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review


The first permanent human impact on the Faroe Islands was identified in the palaeoecological record at three sites on three different islands by the appearance of cultivated crops, charcoal and large wild grasses. Accurate dating of the settlement horizon was made difficult by a radiocarbon plateau, but a suite of dates that lay within the range AD 500–700 was found and the horizon predated the landnam tephra from the AD 870s. The effects of people and their grazing animals on the landscape were rapid and were first apparent in nutrient enrichment of a lake as inferred from diatoms. The earliest known introduction of domestic animals (sheep/goats) was around the eighth century AD, and it probably contributed to the widespread change in vegetation and the loss of restricted native woody cover. 
Settlement resulted in a widespread degradation of the landscape and accelerated the replacement of woodland shrub communities or herb-rich parklands by acid heathland and blanket peat. Pollen and plant macrofossil analyses have revealed that during the early Holocene, blanket peat and shrubby heathlands with Juniperus, Salix, Calluna vulgaris, Empetrum and Erica cinerea developed before the first permanent settlement on the landscape. Comparable mid-Holocene vegetational changes on Shetland have been attributed to early human activity, but new data from the Faroes suggest that climate change may be an alternative hypothesis.
Sider (fra-til)129-139
Antal sider11
TidsskriftBiology and Environment
Udgave nummer1-2
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2001


  • Programområde 5: Natur og klima


Dyk ned i forskningsemnerne om 'Human impact and landscape degradation on the Faroe Islands'. Sammen danner de et unikt fingeraftryk.