Environment Minister Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson signed a document yesterday doubling the size of the nature reserve on West Iceland’s Flatey island. The main objective of the expansion is to protect the unique and diverse ecosystem of the area and its bird habitats, in particular the nesting areas of rare bird species such as the arctic tern, red phalarope, and puffin. The island has a few inhabitants and is a popular tourist destination.
The protection is also intended to ensure research and monitoring of the island’s ecosystem with an emphasis on its birdlife. Flatey has long had important research value and besides birdlife, contains diverse plant species, including eelgrass (Zostera marina) that is rarely found elsewhere in Icelandic waters.
The island’s nature reserve has now been doubled in size to 1.62 square kilometres [0.63 square miles], and extends to islets and skerries south of the island and across the seabed between them. The nature reserve is located within Breiðafjörður fjord, which is itself a protected area.
“Flatey is the undisputed pearl of Breiðafjörður,” Environment Minister Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson stated. “Here is a remarkable story of habitation where the interaction of man and nature was and is in balance. […] It is therefore important for future generations, ourselves and our guests to ensure the protection of a pearl such as Flatey.”