Government and New Landowner Agree to Protect Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon

Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, a popular tourist site in South Iceland, is being sold from one private owner to another. The Icelandic government had the right to step in and purchase the land for the state, but forewent that right. However, Environment Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson and the purchaser of the property have signed an agreement to work toward protecting the site.

The picturesque canyon and the surrounding area, covering 315 hectares, was put up for sale six years ago. A buyer made an offer on the property earlier this year and was accepted. However, as Fjaðrárgljúfur is on Iceland’s Nature Conservation Register, the state had pre-emptive purchase rights to the land. This means that if it chose to do so, it could step in and take over the purchase from the prospective landowner. The government ultimately decided not to exercise that right, but the Environment Minister has now signed an agreement with the to-be landowner that is expected to ensure the canyon’s protection.

According to a government notice announcing the agreement, the Environment Ministry did not consider it necessary to intervene in the purchase in order to guarantee the area would be protected. The agreement ensures the protection of the area, and necessary infrastructure development, will be a joint project between the state and the new owner.

Parking fees may be instated

Until now, no admission or parking fees have been charged at the site. The government notice states that in accordance with the Nature Conservation Act, “collection of fees shall not impair or impede the free movement of persons through the protected area who do not use the car park,” and that “the collection and disposition of fees that may be charged for the parking of motor vehicles shall be in its entirety used to develop services, operations, and infrastructure for those travelling in the area.”

The notice also states that neighbouring landowners whose land contains part of the canyon have expressed their willingness to collaborate on the protection of Fjaðrárgljúfur.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Purchase Offer Accepted

Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon

The Icelandic state needs to decide whether it will purchase Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, a popular tourist site in South Iceland, Fréttablaðið reports. The canyon is up for sale and an offer from a private investor has been accepted, but the state has pre-emptive purchase rights to the land. The purchase price is estimated between ISK 300 and 350 million [$2.3-2.7 million; €2.2-2.5 million].

The canyon and surrounding area covering 315 hectares was put up for sale six years ago. A buyer has now been found, and the sale manager revealed that they were Icelandic and work in tourism. The state can step in and buy the land if Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson decide to do so, but they have a limited window of time.

Fjaðrárgljúfur has been managed by the Environment Agency of Iceland in recent years. The agency has closed the area for weeks-long periods in recent years when tourist traffic was causing damage to the fragile vegetation around the canyon. The spot was not well-known to foreign tourists until it appeared in a music video by Justin Bieber in 2015, which put it on the map.

Until now, there has been no admission fee for visitors to the canyon. It is not known whether the private purchaser aims to profit from the land by charging admission.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Closed Again

Fjaðrárgljúfur walking path

Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, a popular tourist site in South Iceland, has been closed to visitors. A notice on the Environmental Agency of Iceland’s website states the area has been damaged greatly by pedestrian traffic, combined with thawing weather conditions. The closure took effect this morning and will stand for a period of two weeks, at which time the Environment Agency will re-evaluate the condition of the area.

This is the second time this year the canyon is closed to visitors due to environmental damage caused by increased visitors. Fjaðrárgljúfur was also closed last spring for the same reason.

The number of tourists visiting the canyon nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017, in part due to Justin Bieber’s music video for I’ll Show You, filmed at the location. The video, released in late 2015, has over 400 million views on YouTube.

“Please help us to protect the nature and respect closing in nature conservation areas,” the Environment Agency’s notice states.

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