Skalanes, Seydisfjordur, Iceland | CruiseBe
Average: 9.8 (10 votes)


Natural sights
nature reserve, nature beauty

Skálanes is a nature reserve in Iceland.

The nature reserve and centre are owned and managed by Ólafur Pétursson and his family. The day-to-day running of the reserve is undertaken by Ólafur with the help of a wide variety of people from the local Icelandic community and from overseas.



Skálanes is located 17 km to the east of the town of Seyðisfjörður in eastern Iceland at 65° 18' 0" North, 13° 43' 0" West.

The Reserve

The reserve is roughly 1250 ha in size. The site is bounded by the sea on the north and east and by a continuation of similar land to the south and west. The majority of the land slopes from the skyline (945m) in the south to the sea at the northern edge of the reserve. The coastline along the northern edge of the reserve makes up the southern side of the mouth of the Fjord called Seyðisfjorður, whilst the eastern section of coastline consists of sheer sea cliffs reaching up to 600 meters in height.

Below is list of the main habitat types found on the reserve:

  • Marine
  • Intertidal- rocky sea shore and pebble beach
  • Cliffs
  • Riparian
  • Fresh water wetlands- pools, scrapes, flushes, bogs
  • Wet pasture
  • Meadow
  • Dwarf scrub/woodland communities
  • Scree slopes
  • Bare ground
  • Various stages of successional habitats found upon eroded soils

This wealth of habitats provide niches for a wide variety of life. There are at least 150 species of plants, 47 bird species and the 4 Icelandic mammals.

Projects at Skálanes

There are many long term projects that are currently being undertaken on the reserve.

Turf wall / turf building construction

The method of using turf for creating boundaries and structures can be seen in many places throughout Iceland and is being used at Skálanes due to its heritage significance and unobtrusiveness when placed in natural environments. The work entails cutting and stacking turf in two lines and filling the centre with soil. The turf is overlapped in each layer similar to bricks in a house and tied together with pieces of turf which bridge the central cavity. The top is then capped with large pieces of turf.

Path work

Essential to present and future visitor management is the creation and upkeep of various paths within the reserve. Staff are currently designing a specification for path construction and starting to lay paths in the most heavily used areas of the reserve.


Skálanes has an ambitious re-forestation plan covering 111 ha of the site. The tree species used in these plantings are predominantly birch, rowan and willow all of which are Icelandic native species. Various planting methods are being trialed and monitored so that planting efforts are well targeted and efficient. One of the largest areas of planting is located in an area where many fragments of relic woodland and associated ground flora remain. Supplementary planting in this area will hopefully accelerate the process of natural regeneration and encourage the remaining scrubby trees to expand into contiguous woodland.

Lupin control

In recent years there has been some debate surrounding the Nootka lupin (Lupinus nootkatensis) in Iceland. An introduced species used to combat soil erosion, lupin grows well on exposed, eroded soil areas however there is growing concern that in some places it is creeping away unchecked and out competing the native flora which consists of many delicate herbs, wild flowers, grasses and sedges. The lupin at Skálanes is now being studied using various methods so as to help develop a landscape scale plan for the control and removal of this plant. It appears from direct observation within the reserve that there is a considerable loss of biodiversity in the areas that surround the lupin as it encroaches upon and out competes with other species.

Stone wall construction

Using a specification written by a Scottish volunteer from a previous group, staff use stone from the surroundings to create boundary walls and walls for various structures.

Sustainable Agriculture

The staff are increasingly looking at making Skálanes more sustainable and will be introducing some low-impact agriculture to the area around the centre. This will involve projects like a vegetable garden and rearing chickens and pigs.

Monitoring & Survey Work

Monitoring and survey work is an important part of the conservation work at Skálanes. There are a wide variety of bird and plant species on the reserve which staff and volunteers surveys and monitor each year.

Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0