Reform of the Icelandic Soil Conservation Law

  • Birkir Snær Fannarsson
  • Björn Helgi Barkarson
  • Jón Geir Pétursson
  • Sigríður Svana Helgadóttir
Part of the International Yearbook of Soil Law and Policy book series (IYSLP, volume 2017)


Since the settlement of Iceland in the ninth century, the status of Icelandic ecosystems, its soil, and vegetation has degraded. The Icelandic society was affected by the degradation processes, and in the late nineteenth century the first organized efforts to stop the massive land degradation were initiated. In the twentieth century, Icelandic legislation on soil conservation was reformed several times, but current law is from 1965. Since then, new challenges have emerged, international conventions and law have shaped environmental policy globally, and the Icelandic society has transformed. After a few years of working on the reform of the Icelandic law on soil conservation, a new bill includes provisions that would transform the objectives of soil conservation work and allow for further development of the organized approach, to conserve biological diversity, mitigate climate change, and manage land sustainably. This approach should include a properly designed dialogue and consultation process for making national and regional policies and facilitate build-up of knowledge regarding the soil and vegetation resource, participation approach and knowledge transfer in every step taken, and the proper enforcement provisions.



The authors would like to express their appreciation for the opportunity to give an insight into how a 1000-year long history of settlement in the harsh nature of Iceland has affected Icelandic soils and ecosystems and its interplay with political winds and legislation. Also, and in particular, the authors want to thank Dr. Anna María Ágústssdóttir, specialist at the Icelandic Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, for her help and for providing suggestions for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Birkir Snær Fannarsson
    • 1
  • Björn Helgi Barkarson
    • 2
  • Jón Geir Pétursson
    • 2
  • Sigríður Svana Helgadóttir
    • 2
  1. 1.Icelandic Soil Conservation ServiceHellaIceland
  2. 2.Ministry for the Environment and Natural ResourcesReykjavikIceland

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