Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, a popular tourist site in South Iceland, is being sold from one private owner to another. The Icelandic government had the right to step in and purchase the land for the state, but forewent that right. However, Environment Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson and the purchaser of the property have signed an agreement to work toward protecting the site.
The picturesque canyon and the surrounding area, covering 315 hectares, was put up for sale six years ago. A buyer made an offer on the property earlier this year and was accepted. However, as Fjaðrárgljúfur is on Iceland’s Nature Conservation Register, the state had pre-emptive purchase rights to the land. This means that if it chose to do so, it could step in and take over the purchase from the prospective landowner. The government ultimately decided not to exercise that right, but the Environment Minister has now signed an agreement with the to-be landowner that is expected to ensure the canyon’s protection.
According to a government notice announcing the agreement, the Environment Ministry did not consider it necessary to intervene in the purchase in order to guarantee the area would be protected. The agreement ensures the protection of the area, and necessary infrastructure development, will be a joint project between the state and the new owner.
Parking fees may be instated
Until now, no admission or parking fees have been charged at the site. The government notice states that in accordance with the Nature Conservation Act, “collection of fees shall not impair or impede the free movement of persons through the protected area who do not use the car park,” and that “the collection and disposition of fees that may be charged for the parking of motor vehicles shall be in its entirety used to develop services, operations, and infrastructure for those travelling in the area.”
The notice also states that neighbouring landowners whose land contains part of the canyon have expressed their willingness to collaborate on the protection of Fjaðrárgljúfur.