Proposed National Park Covering 40 Percent of Iceland

A committee researching guidelines for establishing a national park in the central highlands of Iceland has submitted its final report to the Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the area’s nature, existing protection, utilization, and infrastructure, as well as four scenarios envisioning one or more new national parks in the area.

The central highlands of Iceland are mostly uninhabitable and are one of the largest land areas in Europe without permanent inhabitants.

The report is intended to form a basis for discussion and decision-making concerning protection of the central highlands. It presents four very different scenarios for the area’s future.

The first scenario proposes a national park covering 85 percent of the central highlands, or around 40 percent of Iceland’s land area. The park would be divided into seven areas and its administration would be similar to that of Vatnajökull National Park, where decentralized regional councils are responsible for each area but policy, organization, licensing, and administration would be decided by a central body. This scenario is considered able to achieve comprehensive conservation of the area and management of tourism for the central highlands as a whole.

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