Off-Road Driving Damaging to Icelandic Nature Skip to content

Off-Road Driving Damaging to Icelandic Nature

Off–road driving in Reykjanesfólkvangi in southwest Iceland, one of 96 nature conservatories in Iceland, is becoming a problem for local authorities; a small group of motorcyclists have repeatedly been seen crossing the area on motorcycles.

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Overview of Reykjanes. Photo by Páll Stefánsson

“The people I catch in the act often claim to be ignorant of the consequences of their action; others respond with verbal abuse,” ranger Óskar Sævarsson told Morgunbladid. He says he has to remind people on daily basis.

The local police authorities monitor the area but are unable to chase the motorcyclists due to the vastness of the land and the time it takes to cross the area. Often the perpetrators are riding vehicles not available to the police. Skúli Jónsson, the Deputy Chief of Police in Suðurnes, southwest Iceland, told Morgunbladid it was hard to prove guilt when you can’t catch them in the act.

The damage caused by off-road driving to the environment is considerable and the recovery process can be long. The Ministry of the Environment is in collaboration with local communities to re-categorize roads and close roads not open to traffic.

For the time being the Nature Conservation Act clearly states off-road driving is forbidden to motor vehicles; the exception is off-road driving on glaciers and snowy grounds outside inhabitated areas. The Ministry for the Environment wants to limit or ban all off-road driving on glaciers and snowy grounds where such activities harm or pose a risk to the area in question.

Anyone caught in the act can expect to be sentenced to as many as two years imprisonment.

JB

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