Rangers of the northern section of Vatnajökull National Park have banned the use of drones in the area, except under special circumstances. This is being done primarily to preserve the integrity of wildlife in the area.
Vísir reports that signs in the area, in both Icelandic and English, warn visitors not the employ drones. Guðmundur Ögmundsson, a ranger for the park, told reporters that the ban is in place in part to protect bird life in the area. It has been shown elsewhere in the world that drones can have a negative impact on falcon nesting, for example, and Guðmundur suspects this applies to falcons in Iceland as well.
“Nature is sometimes the subject of debate, and we need to take care of our resources,” he told reporters. “That is exactly what we’re doing with this. [Drone use] is always increasing, and we’re confronting the situation before it becomes a problem.”
The drone ban is not total, however. Drones that are used for research purposes, for example, will be permitted.
As their popularity grows, however, even drone hobbyists have concerns about how and where they are used. Brandur Bjarnason Karlsson, the chairperson of the Icelandic Drone Association (IDA), told reporters that drone use has bordered on irresponsible.
“People [in the the IDA] don’t like seeing drones being flown over so many people,” he said. “There isn’t a lot of experience yet with ensuring the safe use of these devices.”
Currently, there is a draft for regulations on drone use at the Ministry of the Interior. While the draft still has to go through numerous changes before finalisation, Brandur considers it likely that limits set on flying drones over crowds and densely populated areas will stay.
Drones can be easily bought in Iceland, from shops such as the hardware and home appliances store Elko, for anywhere from 5,000 ISK up to 330,000 ISK. Brandur says the purpose of IDA is to increase awareness of drone use safety, precisely because anyone can buy them.