Case study B:    Ecological resilience towards volcanic ash deposition

Deposition of volcanic ash during volcanic activity and the following secondary distribution of the ash is a major cause of ecosystem degradation in Iceland and has also negative effect on peoples livelihood and life quality. In this case study we will expand our knowledge base on the effect of strategic restoration of native woodlands on ecosystem resilience towards volcanic ash deposition and secondary distribution of volcanic ash.

This case study is led by Dr. Guðmundur Halldórsson at the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland

 

This ER-Volc case study is divided further into sub-case studies:

Er_VOLC-casestudiesFlowchart

ER-Volc Physical properties

Physical properties of soil are dominant factor of the potential to a succesful ecosystem restoration. Knowledge of soil properties is important to decide appropriate restoration action.

Experimental plots will be set up in different vegetation types: barren area, restoration in early stages, mature restoration, shrubs and trees. Measurements will be made of key soil properties: soil temperature, water holding capacity, water infiltration, needle ice formation. This will be connected to experiments on action in areas that are extremely difficult to restore. Such areas respond poorly to normal restoration actions.

Outcome of this case study is improved knowledge on thresholds to natural succession in the Hekluskógar area surrounding the Hekla volcano. Improved restoration action in such surroundings is important for both preperation and recovery of ecosystems after volcanic eruption. Setup of experiments will commence in 2015.

ERVolc-Birch 

This study is twofold: ERVolc-Birch distribution and ERVolc-Birch-ash.

ERVolc-Birch distribution

Natural distribution of birch is one of the key operator in the restoration action of the Hekluskógar, a 900 ha afforestation area near Hekla volcano. Initially, prior knowledge from Gunnlaugsskógur a small woodland in South-Iceland was used to plan Hekluskógar. However, birch distribution in Gunnlaugsskógar occured during a colder period where landscape and environmental conditions limit somewhat natural distribution of birch. New and improved knowledge is important to obtain in Hekluskógar area to improve restoration action.

ERVolc-Birch-Ash
Understanding of the effects of volcanic ash on ecosystems is important for efficient ecosystem restoration prior to and recovery after volcanic eruptions.
For the Hekluskógar afforestation near Hekla volcano it is vital to understand how birch will respond to volcanic ash deposition, both as young seedlings and older mature forest.
Experimental setup in the Hekluskógar area will be used to investigate the survival and growth of birch trees after deposition of ash of various thickness.
This case study is still under development. Funding is provided by the Ermond project and the Grógos project, which is funded by the the Icelandic Avalanche and Landslide Disaster Fund (Ofanflóðasjóður).

ERVolc – flow
ERVolc-Flow is a related case study outside the Ermond project but within the Grógos project, which is under supervision of the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland and funded by the the Icelandic Avalanche and Landslide Disaster Fund (Ofanflóðasjóður).
Understanding of the effects of volcanic ash on ecosystems is important for efficient ecosystem restoration both prior to and for recovery after volcanic eruptions. Post-eruptive distribution, or flow by wind and water, of material affects ecosystems severly, creating hazardous conditions that can be of even greater magnitude than the initial ashfall.
Outcome of this case study will be suggestions of strategic placement and structure of vegetation islands that will limit the flow of unconsolidated material (soil and ash) and associated damage on ecosystem.

 

ECOSYSTEM RESILIENCE FOR MITIGATION OF NATURAL DISASTER