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Skógafoss and Geysir At Risk

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Skógafoss and Geysir At Risk

Skógafoss

Skógafoss waterfall. Photo: Sverrir H. Geirmundsson.

Skógafoss waterfall in South Iceland has been added to the Environment Agency of Iceland’s list of endangered areas, RÚV reports. The so-called Red List – Areas at Risk,’ issued every two years, is comprised of sites that “are in significant danger of losing their conservation value or have partially lost it already.” There are six sites on this year’s Red List, which also includes Geysir in South Iceland, and the Mývatn and Laxá area in Northeast Iceland.

As described in the report, Skógafoss is a well-known tourist destination whose visibility from the highway ensures that “[p]ractically all tourists who drive past the waterfall stop there.” However, the present infastructure, such as the parking lot and walking paths, are not nearly sufficient for the large number of visitors it receives every day. The walking trails above the waterfall are in bad condition, due to significant foot-traffic. These conditions have lead to Skógafoss being categorized as a conservation risk: it was on the so-called ‘orange list,’ which includes areas under considerable strain, the last time the survey was taken.

Geysir, on the other hand, has been on the Red List since 2010. As a world-famous destination, it attracts a large number of tourists year-round, and although there are good facitilities there to address the needs of visitors, the area is small, making it hard to distribute visitors in such a way as to protect the fragile ecosystem. Geysir has not yet been declared a protected natural area.

Among the primary goals of the Red List is to encourage the prioritization of conservation efforts and investment for the areas in danger, raise awareness about the threats that each site faces, and promote broader cooperation in their protection.

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