One of Europe’s largest bird cliffs and Iceland’s largest bird nesting area, Látrabjarg, was officially protected yesterday by Iceland’s Minister for the Environment. Hundreds of thousands of birds breed on the cliff yearly, including some at-risk species. The protection is meant to safeguard the area’s biodiversity and the habitat it provides to a wide variety of birds.
Látrabjarg is located in the Westfjords region and is in fact the westernmost point in Iceland. A staggering number of seabirds nest there every year, including one of the largest populations of razorbills in the world: over 160,000 nesting pairs. Around 226,000 guillemot pairs, 118,000 thick-billed murres, 100,000 fulmar pairs, puffins (50,00 pairs), and kittiwakes (some 32,000 pairs) also nest along Látrabjarg. Besides being a key bird habitat, the cliff also features settlement and cultural relics, as well as reflecting the geology of the Westfjords.
“Today is a big day in nature conservation as we protect Látrabjarg, one of the most spectacular bird cliffs in the country and one of the largest in the North Atlantic,” Minister for the Environment Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson stated. “The cliff is a globally important seabird habitat, with one of the largest razorbill settlements in the world and about half of the Icelandic population. There has also been an increase in tourists going to the cliff in recent years, and it is therefore very important to manage traffic in a systematic way and strengthen supervision of the area. My hope is that birds and humans can enjoy the area for the foreseeable future.”
Yesterday’s signing took place in collaboration with locals of the area, who have been calling for the cliff’s protection for years. The Icelandic government initially decided to protect Látrabjarg in 2004.