Photo: Snævarr Guðmundsson

Photo: Snævarr Guðmundsson


Ramsar Convention of Wetlands came into force for Iceland on 2. April 1978. Today Iceland has 6 wetlands which are designated for the Ramsar List. The total surface of these 3 areas is 58 970 hectares. The Environment Agency of Iceland manages all the areas.

Wetland types

The main wetland types and habitats in Iceland are non-forested peatlands, which are often categorized to four subgroups: sloping mires, marshes, floodplains and palsa mires, as well as ponds, lakes, streams and coastal and marine areas.

Waterfowl and rare wetland types have been the most important criteria for the nomination of the three Ramsar sites.

Ramsar sites in Iceland

Ramzar sites in Iceland

The Mývatn-Laxá region was designated to the Ramsar list in 1977. The area is a part of a vast lake, river and marsh complex fed by both cold and thermal springs. The abundant invertebrate fauna provide food for large number of waterfowls. The site is important for various species of nesting waterfowls and members of the Anatidae family, especially for two duck species that, in Europe, nest only in Iceland. The area is a paradise for birdwatchers.

The Thjorsárver site was designated to the Ramsar list in 1990. It is located at the upper part of the Thorsá river consisting of tundra meadows dissected by numerous glacial and spring-fed streams. The site includes abundant pools and lakes and extensive marshland dominated by sedges. The site is surrounded by a desert composed of volcanic sand. It is one of the most important nesting area in Iceland for Pink-footed Goose.

Grunnafjörður site is a river mouth, estuary and bay consisting of mudflats rich in invertebrates, supporting mussel banks and salt marsh vegetation. The site is an important staging, wintering and breeding area for large numbers of various species of waterfowl.


Further information about the Ramsar sites in Iceland:

Ramsar Sites Information Service


Ramsar Wetland Centre

The first wetland center in Iceland was established in 2008 at Hvanneyri, West Iceland. In the surroundings of Hvanneyri there are diverse wetlands which are e.g. very important for the white-fronted goose. The Wetland center will be built up in several stages but the main tasks are to protect the unique wetlands in Hvanneyri, studies on biology and nature of wetlands, research related to wetland restoration, promote education in the field of wetland science, do wetland areas accessible for recreation and education and participation in international research and cooperation on topics related to wetlands.

Ramsar organization in Iceland

AA: The Environment Agency of Iceland, Kristín Linda Árnadóttir, kristinlinda (at)

NFP: Hildur Vésteinsdóttir, The Environment Agency of Iceland, hildurv (at)

CEPA GOV: has not been nominated

CEPA NGO: has not been nominated

SRTP NFP: has not been nominated

Wetlands committee has not been nominated