Title: Riparian ecosystem management - a case study of the Ellidaá and Ytri-Rangá rivers in Iceland

Author(s): Doreen Fualing
Final project
Year of publication:
Document URL: Link
Supervisors: Jon S. Olafsson , Asa L. Aradottir


Riparian zones act as a link between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and play a vital role in their ecological functions. The aim of this research was to assess the prevailing biophysical situations regarding management of riparian zones of the Rivers Ellidaá and Ytri-Rangá in Iceland, identify management strategies in place, identify gaps and challenges faced in management of the R. Ellidaá and establish possible strategies for restoration and management of the R. Ellidaá riparian zone. Methods included observation and acquisition of data from various sectors involved in management of the R. Ellidaá and Ytri-Rangá by use of an interview questionnaire, and GIS mapping. Ellidaá was the main focus of this study in order to illustrate human impact on riparian ecosystems but Ytri-Rangá was chosen as a reference area to contrast with it. The study established that the R. Ellidaá was much more affected by human activities than the Ytri-Rangá. Management measures in place were similar for both rivers. However, the Ellidaá was faced with a number of management gaps. These included limited public awareness, weak enforcement of existing legislation on riparian zones, limited funding and lack of prioritisation for the Ellidaá riparian zone management, lack of collaborative management, urbanisation challenges and existence of the hydropower dam. Management strategies suggested for effective management of the Ellidaá riparian zone include: measures to increase public awareness and education, measure to increase stakeholder participation, enforcement of existing legislation on riparian zones, collaborative management, land use planning and management, compliance inspection and monitoring, prioritisation and funding of restoration projects, political support and political will. It’s important to note that limited attention has been given to research on ecology of riparian zones in Iceland. Thus it is suggested in this paper that further research needs to be undertaken on the hydrological relationship between riparian area and upland ecosystem; biophysical and chemical interactions between the three zones of aquatic, riparian and upland ecosystems in Iceland.

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