River Islet and Cave Declared Nature Reserves Skip to content

River Islet and Cave Declared Nature Reserves

By Iceland Review

Minnanúpshólmi, also known as Videy in Thjórsá, a small island in the lower part of Iceland’s longest river in south Iceland, was declared a nature reserve by Minister for the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir on Wednesday.


Thjórsá. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Last week the cave Kalmanshellir in the Hallmundarhraun lava field in Borgarfjördur, west Iceland, was also declared a nature reserve, visir.is reports.

The goal is to protect the cave, its unique mineral formations, including stalactites, and the entire cave system to which it belongs to prevent damages to the formations.

Kalmanshellir was first studied and measured during an expedition of Icelandic and American cave explorers under the leadership of Jay Reich in the summer of 1993.

The cave proved to be more than four kilometers long and is thereby the country’s longest lava cave, although part of it has collapsed to a large extent.

The reason for placing it under protection is that one branch of the cave system, which measures 500 meters, boasts unusual and untouched lava formations, including stalactites and soda straws which are considered unique natural phenomena on a global scale.

One of the longest soda straws in the world, measuring 1.65 meters, can be found inside the cave.

It is strictly forbidden to enter the most sensitive part of the cave unless urgent public interests are at stake, according to the Environment Agency of Iceland and the cave’s overseers.

As for Videy in Thjórsá, more than 70 species of vascular plants have been found there, among them two types of plants that are very rare in Iceland, ruv.is reports.

The islet was placed under protection at the request of Katrín Briem, who owns the land to which Videy belongs with her sisters.

Their family has lived on the land for generations. Briem said she and her sisters thought it was time to have the islet declared a nature reserve now that the water flow in Thjórsá will decrease with new hydropower plants.

Thereby it will be easier for people to access Videy which might put the environment under significant strain.

Briem has never set foot on the islet herself, which she claims to be untouched territory. However, as a child, she heard stories of people going there to rescue sheep that were stuck on the islet.

Click here to read more about upcoming hydropower projects in the lower Thjórsá.


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