Proposal to Protect Geysir Area a "Cause for Celebration" Skip to content

Proposal to Protect Geysir Area a “Cause for Celebration”

By Ragnar Tómas

Geyser
Photo: Golli.

Earlier this year, the Environment Agency of Iceland submitted a proposal to declare the Geysir region a protected area. The deadline for comment on the proposal passed on April 23. Among the aims of the proposal is to preserve the area’s unique geological formations. The Icelandic Environmental Association (Landvernd) has announced its support for the proposal.

Geysir

The geothermal area of Haukadalur Valley, in southwest Iceland, is home to the hot spring Geysir (The English word geyser derives from Geysir) along with more than 40 other smaller hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles.

Despite being an integral part of Iceland’s Golden Circle (the most popular tourist route in Iceland), the Geyser area has not enjoyed protected status. This means, among other things, that the Environment Agency of Iceland is not responsible for ensuring the minimum safety of visiting tourists.

In January, the Environment Agency of Iceland submitted a proposal to grant protected status to the Geysir area.

Preservation, scientific research, tourism

According to the Agency, the aim of the declaration is to preserve the area’s unique geological formations and to ensure that visitors may continue to visit the area without negatively impacting the environment: “… the area is of tremendous educational and scientific value, both locally and globally. The protected status will also help ensure the future use of the area by locals and tourists and that it is capable of receiving the thousands of guests who visit every year.”

The proposal forms a part of the government’s effort to extend protected status to vulnerable sites in Iceland in accordance with the government agreement. The proposal is submitted in accordance with Article 39 of Act No. 60/2013. The proposal was authored by a workgroup comprised of representatives from the Environment Agency of Iceland, the Bláskógabyggð Municipality, and the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources.

Should have been done “decades ago”

On April 22, the Icelandic Environmental Association announced its support for the proposal. The Union calls the proposal a cause for celebration: “Granting protected status to the Geysir area is long overdue. It’s actually quite astonishing that protected status wasn’t granted decades ago. It will ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the magnificent beauty and power of the Geysir area for the foreseeable future.”

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