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The Icelandic Institute of Natural History (IINH) conducted a ‘vegetation analysis’ on and mapping of the proposed construction area in coordination with the EIA (see Appendix 5). The analysis is based on a new vegetation map of the central highlands in Iceland.

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Vegetation cover and vegetated land

A total area of 4,166 km2 to the south of the Sultartangi Reservoir was analysed. All the proposals for the demarcation of the Búrfell Wind Farm are within a 65 km2 area contained within the total area analysed. Unvegetated- or sparsely vegetated land covers 48 km2 of this 65 km2 area (75%). Approximately 96% of the area is defined as a natural land type, and the other 4% is classified as a manmade land type. Pumice flats and lava cover a total of 43 km2 of the sparsely vegetated land. All the water within the area is part of the Þjórsá River (2 km2).

Approximately one fourth of the proposed construction area (14 km2) is defined as vegetated land (over 10% vegetation cover). Vegetation cover is rather poor, and the largest part of the vegetated areas is in fact a re-vegetated area, sown with blue grass and others with grass seeds and the Alaskan Lupine. These vegetation communities cover 50% of the total vegetated area and blue grass is the most dominant species. The Icelandic Institute of Natural History (IINH) states that the vegetation within the area is mostly manmade, and there are no vegetation communities of natural value at a local or national level with the exception of the birch scrub, which has mostly grown on the isolated Klofaey islet in the Þjórsá River.

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Vegetation cover

Total surface area and percentage of vegetation cover categories and water in the proposed Búrfell Wind Farm and demarcated by proposals 1, 2 and 3.

Vegetation mapping defines a land area where vegetation covers 90% of the land as ‘completely vegetated land’ and a land area where vegetation covers over 10% as ‘vegetated land’.


Total size

Research area

76,9

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Vegetation cover within the Búrfell Wind Farm is proportionally less when compared with the total area under analysis. Moss vegetation is characteristic of the total area with wetland areas covering 3%. However, this is not the case in the proposed Búrfell Wind Farm area where vegetation is mostly manmade. Unvegetated- and sparsely vegetated land in the Búrfell Wind Farm area is characterised by pumice flats and lava ,whereas that category within the total area is characterised by gravel flats.

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Vegetation map

Overview map

Vegetation map of the area (the Icelandic Institute of Natural History), demarcated by proposals 1 - 3 for the Búrfell Wind Farm: The dark green colour shows the extent of the birch land areas connected with the Hekla forest project.

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Impact on vegetation

Most of the area intended for the proposed wind turbines is a sparsely vegetated or unvegetated area. Wetland areas are a particular focus of protection provisions outlined for vegetated areas. No wetland areas will be lost as a result of the proposed construction work. The Icelandic Institute of Natural History (IINH) did not find any vegetation communities with a natural value that would be disturbed as a result of the proposed construction work. Blue grass could potentially be disturbed in proposal 1 in contrast to the moss land and grassland areas that could be disturbed in certain areas in proposals 2 and 3 (less in proposal 3). Proposal 2 will cause the most disturbances to re-vegetated birch trees that were planted for the Hekla Forest project.

The Búrfell Wind Farm will have a direct and negative impact on vegetation in all three proposals; these effects will be permanent.

There are no vegetation communities of natural value at the local or national level with the exception of the birch scrub, which has mostly grown on the isolated Klofaey islet in the Þjórsá River. This will not be disturbed.

The aforementioned factors lead to the conclusion that the proposed construction work will have insignificant impact on vegetation.

Blue grass could potentially be disturbed in proposal 1 in contrast to the moss land and grassland areas that could be disturbed in certain areas within proposals 2 and 3 (less in proposal 3). There is no significant difference between proposals with regard to the extent of the effects on vegetation, but proposal 2 will cause the most disturbance to re-vegetated birch tree areas in the Hekla Forest program.

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Mitigation measures

The environmental impact assessment of the final design does not show any need to relocate the wind turbines away from vegetated areas. Roads should also be constructed in poorly vegetated areas.
Efforts will be made to utilise the herbage layer for finishing work in disturbed areas.
Landsvirkjun outlines requirements with regard to finishing work and activity within the proposed area. The objective is to minimise any disturbance and to reduce the impact on vegetation. The requirements are as follows:

  • Any disturbance to soil outside the construction area is prohibited.
  • Any unnecessary disturbance to soil within the authorised construction area should be avoided. Off road driving is prohibited.
  • The disposal of oil and oil based substances in water, groundwater and soil is prohibited.
  • The construction site should be kept tidy by all employees during the construction period.

The requirements will be implemented in this project as in all other Landsvirkjun projects. Landsvirkjun’s Environmental Management System monitors construction work and ensures that the impact on the environment is limited to the specifications detailed in the results of the EIA, licensing requirements and Landsvirkjun’s policies.

The proposals are mostly within defined land reclamation areas outlined by the Regional Plan for the Central Highlands of Iceland 2015. Landsvirkjun is committed to continuing land reclamation efforts, in cooperation with the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland and Hekla Forest.

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Búrfellslundur Wind Farm EIA report

The Búrfellslundur Wind Farm EIA report can be accessed here.
Further discussion on vegetation is in chapter 7.5

EIA report

186 MB PDF

Vegetation

15,9 MB PDF