Rangers at Þingvellir National Park discovered yesterday, to their dismay, that campers had ripped up slow-growing moss to insulate their tents.
In a Facebook post on the incident – which includes several photos of the camp site and the damage caused – rangers explain the situation:
Three young backpackers at the Vatnskot campground this weekend decided to insulate their tents by tearing up mosses and other fragile vegetation using it as insulation material. The backpackers felt it was too cold and windy that night and the best idea to keep warm was to start insulating their tents. Park rangers noted an unusual foundation around their tents and realised soon that something was not right. Not far away from the tents many scars in the ground could be found. After some very strong words of advice from the rangers the visitors were full of remorse and later left the park. Mosses are extremely vulnerable to disturbance and should be respected as well as all other vegetation. The police [have] been notified about their actions.
For the unaware, unlike turf or grass, moss takes a very long time to grow. According to the University of Iceland, moss at Þingvellir grows about 0.75cm per year. Re-planting it once it has been torn out of the grown hinders this process considerably.
It is not only established by law to camp only in designated areas and leave the surrounding plant and animal life undisturbed; it is also just good manners and environmentally preferable to do so.