Effects on the natural environment and visual aspects
Extensive monitoring on the ecosystem
- Disturbance to the surroundings is unavoidable in Landsvirkjun’s operations. The Company carries out extensive monitoring and research on the affected areas of its power stations with the objective of assessing any environmental impact from its operations. The most extensive research is carried out on the ecosystem including river biota and birdlife, alongside reindeer monitoring. The research is carried out by various universities, research institutes and independent experts in cooperation with Landsvirkjun.
Some of the more interesting results included the following:
- Reindeer: Reindeer numbers decreased in the Vesturöræfi wilderness at the turn of the century (in the area affected by the Káranhjúkar Hydropower Project) and later on in the entire Snæfell area. However, it is now clear that numbers have increased in the last few years and are growing in the east (Suðurfirðir) and north (Vopnafjarðarheiði).
- Lagarfljót: The Arctic char population has decreased continually and consistently since 1998 and had decreased before the Fljótsdalur Hydropower Station began operations. Data collected has not shown any indications of a decrease in the Brown trout population. The fish in Lagarfljót are smaller in size and are not as well nourished. The realistic effects of the power station will become clearer in the next few years.
- Sog area: Salmon fishing in the Sog area in 2011 was well above the average recorded for the previous 10 years but was well below average in 2012. This is consistent with generally low angling numbers and salmon numbers in the country’s river system that year. There has also been a decrease in Arctic char numbers in the Sog area since 2000. The decrease reflects the decrease in population in the Sog area and is consistent with an overall decrease in the population in Icelandic rivers. The number of midges found in traps in the Sog area was consistent with the average between 2007-2011.
- Þjórsá area: The density of salmon juveniles in their first and second year (above the fish ladder by Búði Waterfall) was the highest level recorded. This is testament to the increase in salmon numbers above the ladder.
Visual impact and landscape
- In 2012, a landscape architect was employed by Landsvirkjun. The work focuses on landscaping, the appearance of the environment, the design of structures and work in connection with new projects and landscape analysis.
- A number of projects, pertaining to visual aspects, were active in 2013. These included landscape analysis of the waterway for the potential power project at Blanda, alongside research projects on landscaping and the visual impact of construction work on power projects at Bjarnarflag and Þeistareykir.
Summary for the year
A summary of the Environmental Report for 2013 can be found here:
Environmental Report 2013 - Summary
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