Restoring the watershed landscape of Grunnafjörður in Western Iceland

Project Context and Aim

Iceland’s lowland wetlands harbour rich biodiversity, including globally significant sites for waders (including knot) and wildfowl (such as brent goose) alongside nine nationally Red-Listed birds. However, 90% of wetlands have been drained for agriculture, with many subsequently overgrazed or abandoned. Over 350,000 ha of damaged ecosystems are no longer used, yet generate 70% of national carbon emissions.

This project will plan restoration of the 25,000 ha Hvalfjarðarsveit (Whale Fjord) watershed by reinstating natural hydrological processes across a landscape under fragmented management. It will develop a viable management plan for the 1,470 ha Grunnafjörður Ramsar site that is expected to involve rewetting land, raising water quality, reducing carbon emissions and restoring valuable habitat. Involving the community, farmers and landowners, the project will refine methodologies for measuring emissions, monitoring biodiversity and planning large-scale restoration – over time creating replicable educational and economic opportunities.

Project Partners

Votlendi (Wetland Fund)
Fuglavernd (Birdlife Iceland)
Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (SCSI)
Agricultural University of Iceland
Cairngorms Connect
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

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