National Parks and Protected Areas
There are a large number of protected areas in Iceland, to which varying rules apply depending upon the aim of the protection accorded them, the nature of the area and the accord reached with stakeholders. As a result, the classes of protection are numerous, including natural sites, national parks, nature reserves, protected areas with sustainable resource utilisation, country parks etc. Their classification accords generally with that used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Nature Conservation Act lays down in detail the classification of protection.
The Environment Agency handles preparations for designating protected areas and their administration, as well as that of the Snæfellsjökull National Park. Vatnajökull National Park and Thingvellir National Park are independent institutions.
Certain ecosystems and geoheritage sites, such as wetlands, lakes and ponds, baylands and littoral mud, enjoy special protection. This applies as well to birch woods and specific geoconservation sites, waterfalls and their immediate surroundings, hot springs, sinter formations and thermal sources. Disturbing such natural phenomena or removing any part of them from their surroundings is strictly prohibited.