Off-Road Driving Becoming Major Problem

Off-Road Driving Becoming Major Problem

Published August 11, 2014

Photos by
Gabrielle Motola

Greater cooperation between local authorities and tourist companies is needed to stem the damage done to the Icelandic countryside by off-road driving, says an official from the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (SCSI).

RÚV reports that off-road traffic has been causing considerable damage to soil and moss, which is in fact illegal to drive on. Natural replenishment of the moss, which is in many instances crucial to preventing soil erosion, can take years.

Andrés Arnalds, an official from SCSI, told reporters that he believes the solution to the problem lies with communication. Specifically, that Icelandic tourism websites could advise visitors of the environmental damage and illegality of off-road driving.

“Our experience at SCSI is that education often works best,” he said. “There are many websites that people are using to prepare for their trips around Iceland, and that’s probably the best way to reach people. In this way, they’ll become well aware that driving off-road brings with it a heavy fine.”

However, there are already many Icelandic websites directed at tourists coming to Iceland that expressly warn them of this (see here, here, here, here and here, for just a few examples).

As for how heavy those fines can be, Vísir reports that one tourist was fined 500,000 ISK (a little over $4,300 USD) on the spot for driving off-road at Vatnajökull National Park.

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