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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.