The increase in traffic in the UNESCO World Heritage listed Þingvellir National Park area is having a negative impact on Lake Þingvallavatn, Iceland’s second largest lake.
Þingvallavatn. Photo: Páll Kjartansson/Iceland Review.
Park ranger Ólafur Örn Haraldsson said at a conference yesterday that the improved road over Lyngdalsheiði pass, from Lake Þingvellir to Laugarvatn, which opened in 2010, is the main reason for the increased traffic by Lake Þingvellir, located 50 km (30 miles) east of the capital, mbl.is reports.
An increase in traffic of 85 percent was recorded in the first 90 days of this year. In 2000, an average of 550 cars passed the lake each day, in 2007 the number increased to 740 and in 2012 to 1,074. So far this year, traffic has increased to an average of 1,987 cars per day.
According to Ólafur, the protection and monitoring of Þingvallavatn will be one of the most important projects in nature protection in Iceland.
Ólafur said that there have been significant changes in and around the lake in recent years including run-off of wastewater from geothermal power plants, an increase in the temperature of the air and water, more effluent from summerhouses and due to the increase in tourism, as well as the expansion of pine forest.
Impacts from fishing, such as the use of different kinds of bait like mackerel and roe from unknown sources have also had an impact, Ólafur stated.