Image: Steenaire, Via Wikimedia Commons

New Conservation Laws Go Into Effect at Hornstrandir

 In Nature & Travel, News

New land management and conservation regulations around the Hornstrandir nature preserve in the Westfjords went into effect on Friday, RÚV reports. The new regulations now ban camping outside of specially designated areas and put significant restrictions on cruise ship landings, among other measures that have been put in place to keep the preserve as “untouched as possible” for future generations.

Hornstrandir was established as a nature preserve in 1975. The updated Hornstrandir regulations are the result of a collaboration between local land owners, as well as planning authorities and the Environment Agency of Iceland. They reiterate the overall conservation plan for Hornstrandir, and also lay out an action plan for the more pressing concerns related to the preserve and the order in which they need to be prioritized between now and 2023. Travel habits have changed a great deal since the last time these regulations were examined, Kristín Ósk Jónasdóttir, a specialist working with the Environment Agency, points out, which is why it was important to update them now.

Per the new regulations, it is no longer legal for visitors to camp in Hornstrandir except in specifically designated areas where sanitary facilities have been provided. Likewise, visitors may not ride bikes or bring dogs within the preserve (exceptions are made for dog owners who live within the boundaries of the preserve, as well as people with rescue or service dogs). Tour group size will be limited: a maximum of 30 people in the western part of the preserve and 15 in the eastern part. Larger tour groups will need to apply to the Environment Agency for an exception. The landing of cruise ships with 50 passengers or more will also no longer be permitted within the preserve. It’s also requested that the Coast Guard update its navigational chart such that all ship traffic must be at least 115 metres [377 ft] away from all sea bird colonies and require that permission to take videos or photographs be specially obtained from the Environment Agency, as both can have a negative effect not only on other visitors’ experience, but also on the wildlife itself.

Kristín Ósk says that maintaining the tranquility of the preserve is important, which is why helicopter landings and drone operation is also not allowed within its boundaries. Similarly are small aircraft landings only allowed within designated areas in the preserve. “In all reality, we’re trying to keep the preserve as untouched as possible and what we’ve been trying to do in the preceding decades should still be possible for coming generations to do as well.”

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