One of Iceland’s most popular and beloved natural sites, the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon in the country’s southeast, will officially become a nature reserve today and part of Vatnajökull National Park, RÚV reports. With the addition of the lagoon, the park will now stretch from Vatnajökull’s highest peak Hvannadalshnjúkur down to the sea.
Jón Geir Pétursson, a representative from the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources, told RÚV that the purpose of endowing the lagoon with protected status is to ensure that Vatnajökull National Park continues to grow. The park will now be responsible for supervision and upkeep of the area around the lagoon. “A reception for guests and sanitation facilities need to be built for the 700,000 visitors who come to the area annually,” Jón Geir remarked. Asked whether it is a possibility that visitors might be charged for entry to the lagoon, Jón Geir said that he doesn’t rule it out, should it become necessary. Vatnajökull National Park already collects fees for camping and visits to ice caves, so the framework for fee-collection is already in place.
Land encompassing the eastern part of the lagoon, was privately owned until January, when it was purchased by the Icelandic government.