The Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources has allocated 140 million ISK ($1,102,535, €893,712) to emergency operations and infrastructure development in areas that were declared nature conserves in 2020.
Wooden platforms will be constructed in the Geysir geothermal area, which was declared a nature conserve last summer, as well as gravel paths and an observation platform. Infrastructure in Kerlingarfjöll will also be built, as the area is on a red list due to tourist onslaught and at risk of losing its characteristics that led to it being protected. The strain is most visible in Neðri Hveravellir where a lack of control and infrastructure leaves the unique geothermal area and delicate clay soil unprotected. Walking platforms will be constructed to protect sinter and the hot spring clay from desire paths and foot traffic.
A pedestrian bridge will be constructed on the 5 km hiking path from Ásgarður to Hveradalir. This is one of the most popular hiking trails in the area but Ásgarðsá river can be deep and fast-flowing and can prove a hindrance to people who don’t want to wade across it. The project leaders also suggest the work will be done in the vicinity of Búrfell and Búrfell canyon, where another popular hiking trail is straining its environment. The delicate flora in the area is liable for damage because of foot traffic. Additional projects include informational signs by Goðafoss waterfall, infrastructure by Háifoss waterfall in Þjórsárdalur and research into whether further infrastructure is needed by Gjáin and Hjálparfoss.
“Nature reserves are important to protect the natural and cultural value of the land for the next generations. By conserving areas, an additional attraction is created that can be helpful to create jobs in rural areas,” stated Minister for the Environment Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson. “I’ve focused on directing infrastructure funds to newly conserved areas and to deal with issues as soon as they arise. In 2020, eight locations became conserved areas and in many, improvements are needed to make sure nature is receiving the benefit of the doubt.”