Illegal off-road driving
Most tourists who come to Iceland do so to enjoy Icelandic nature, which is certainly unique. Geologically speaking, Iceland is a young country; a volcanic island that is still being formed, as the world has certainly taken note of over the last few years. But due to how young the land is and how it has developed, the natural environment is fragile and sensitive. When the fact that the country lies right below the Arctic Circle is taken into consideration, along with the fact that the growing season is short, it is apparent that the environment can take many years, decades or even centuries to recover. For example, many people don’t realize that by uprooting or driving on moss, damage is caused that can take at least a decade or, more likely, some hundreds of years to mend – and we’re not even talking about the highlands where the summer is much shorter.
Whilst traveling around the country, the highest respect for the Icelandic environment must be shown. It’s good to remember to take nothing besides photographs and leave nothing behind except footprints.
- Check out the road map and see where the roads and trails are.
- Get information about the appropriate routes at visitor centre, and from rangers or staff.
- Find out in advance when mountain roads are likely to be open, along with other related information, at a visitor centre or here.
While on your trip around the country you’ll quickly see that in many places, road ruts and paths have formed from other people. Often they are closed off with nothing more than a row of small rocks. Don’t be caught in the pitfall of following those paths; only stay on roads and marked trails. Instead, think about the damage off-road driving has caused, take photos and educate friends and acquaintances. See how long such damage takes to heal. Notice that ruts don’t just look ugly; they draw in water and thereby cause even further damage, leading to erosion of soil and vegetation. Walk around a short distance or turn around if you can’t go any farther by driving. That’s the only right thing do. Besides, you can easily expect a sky-high fine or prison term for offenses.
We should all set a good example. Together we share the responsibility of ensuring that everyone gets the chance of enjoying a pristine natural environment for years to come.