Peat initiation in the Faroe Islands: climate change, pedogenesis or human impact?

I. T. Lawson, M. J. Church, K. J. Edwards, G. T. Cook, A. J. Dugmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

As an isolated island group lying off the NW European mainland which was uninhabited until the mid-first millennium AD, the Faroes offer a unique opportunity to study natural processes of Holocene ecosystem development in a region where anthropogenic activity is usually a complicating factor. In this paper new radiocarbon dates and pollen-analytical data from the island of Sandoy, in the centre of the Faroes archipelago, are presented. Together with existing pollen and plant macrofossil records, these data allow a reconstruction of patterns of Holocene vegetational and edaphic change. Basal peat dates indicate that large areas of blanket mire were established long before the first human settlement, demonstrating conclusively that human impact is not necessary for the development of such ecosystems. The timing of the initiation of the blanket peats varies markedly, both across the Faroes as a whole and at a landscape scale, with dates distributed evenly over 9000 years. This suggests that, in the Faroes at least, pedogenesis was more important than climatic change in determining the timing of the spread of blanket peat systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-28
Number of pages14
JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth and Environmental Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2007


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