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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2005, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK
World Stories: The Biggest Desert in Europe
First broadcast July 2005
BBC World Service regional journalists travel the globe to uncover stories that are not always top of the agenda in this year's series of World Stories.

Boris Maksimov of the BBC's Russian Service explores how Iceland's desert is a lesson for the rest of the world in the fifth World Story.

The Biggest Desert in Europe

Cutting down trees and seeing desert taking their place is not just a contemporary phenomenon.

When the Vikings arrived in Iceland, they cut down the forests to make grazing land for their sheep.

But when the sheep arrived, they ate all the grass - and the result was the biggest desert in Europe.

It has only been since 1943 that the people of Iceland have been trying to reverse the desertification process - after they gained independence from Denmark.

Now, half the population is actively involved in re-forestation.

Boris Maksimov of the BBC's Russian Service explores how this land of ice and volcanoes is slowly turning greener.


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