Iceland’s Highlands Suffer Irreparable Damage Skip to content

Iceland’s Highlands Suffer Irreparable Damage

Páll Ernisson, a ranger for the Landmannalaugar area in Iceland’s southern highlands, has reported irreparable damage to the area’s sensitive environment caused by vehicles off-roading, motorcycles, four-wheelers and jeeps.

Ernisson said off-roading has increased considerably this summer and after the first weekend in August there seems to have been boom in off-road driving, making Ernisson assume a group of people had deliberately caused damage to the environment, Morgunbladid reports.

“The marks are not always long and it doesn’t take more than a few seconds to spin [the vegetation] up, but some marks are very ugly and the marks left in the moss will never disappear. [The vegetation] will not heal in my lifetime,” Ernisson said.

Ernisson pointed out that driving off-road does not only cause damage in vegetated areas but also in the wastelands. “It isn’t sand like people think. If you drive outside the volcanic zone the loose soil that was there has already blown into the ocean and the rocky cover that is left actually prevents further soil erosion.”

“If you drive off track in such areas you uncover [the sand] again and than everything is repeated from the start,” Ernisson said.

Ernisson is dissatisfied with lack of policing in Landmannalaugar causing drivers of unregistered vehicles to look at the area as a sort of a playground outside the reach of the law. “We just want police to be more visible. It is ridiculous that police officers come twice a year to patrol an area which 150,000 people visit [every year].”

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