Skalanes Nature and Heritage
centre management strategy
2007 – 2012
Prepared September 2007
By Wren Franklin
2. Site details
2.1 Location and access
2.2 Status and ownership
2.3 Site particulars
2.4 Site infrastructure
3. Environmental information
4. Ecological information
4.2 Species of interest
5. Cultural information
5.1 Brief history of the site
5.3 Human interaction with the environment
6. Aims and objectives
6.1 Key surveys
6.2 Climate monitoring
6.3 Landscape management
6.4 Historical/cultural research
6.5 Interpretation development
6.7 Promote research opportunities
6.8 Create volunteer opportunities
6.9 Management planning
7. Estimated costing
7.1 Skalanes input
7.2 Capital funds and yearly maintenance costs
7.3 Estimated costing summary
9. Contact details
1. Site map
2. Species lists
4. Environmental policy
Skalanes is a private sector heritage and conservation centre with a vision to
create a place where the Icelandic environment and cultural history can be
researched and interpreted. The findings from surveys and research carried
out at Skalanes will be used for the education of all interested parties and
will also feed into other research projects within Iceland and beyond.
This strategy will outline all aspects of the centre ands its aims and
objectives for the next five years.
It is hoped that by creating a document that details both previous
investment and future aims for the centre it will be possible to attract some
external funding from within Iceland and beyond and clarify the direction of
the centre for all involved.
2. Site details
2.1 Location and access:
Skalanes is located in East Iceland, 19km east of Seyðisfjorður along the
southern side of the fjord. The final 4km is only passable on foot, along
marked trail, or by 4 wheel drive vehicle. It is also possible to reach the site
by hiking along either of the two marked trails from Mjoifjorður. The site
can also be accessed by boat from Seyðisfjorður or the sea via a newly
2.2 Status and ownership:
The site is a private conservation site. The ownership is the hands of a
private firm called Skálanesbjarg ehf. It has no relation to the day to day
running of the centre.
2.3 Site particulars:
Skálanes 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 in the south to the sea at
the northern edge of the site. The coast line along the northern edge of the
site makes the southern side of the mouth of Seyðisfjorður whilst the
eastern section of coastline consists of sheer sea cliffs reaching up to 600
meters in height.
2.4 Site infrastructure:
Many elements of the site have been developed in the last two years the
main features being as follows:
Access track from Seyðisfjorður and car park
Pier for landing small boats
Restoration/renovation of farm house
• Cliff edge viewing platforms
• Marked trail with foot bridges
3. Environmental information
No specific data exists for Skalanes but the following data is from the year
2006 at the Dalatangi weather station which is the nearest to SKalanes.
Average temp. Average higest Annual Rainfall Average air pressure Average vind speed
4.8 7.3 1601.2 1005.8 6.4
From sea level around the coastal boundaries to approximately 750 meters
at the highest point
Skálanes is very diverse and it´s topography one can find diversen habitats
spanning from the coast and up to mountain peaks. One main point of
interest are the cliff at skalanes a little under 700m high which are of
biological, geological and meterological interest. More surveying and or
research is needed so any point specific fact can be stated.
A standard Icelandic basaltic layering composes most of the geology at
Skalanes but at the cliffs an opening into a intrusion/sill is clearly visible
which has transformed the rock surrounding it into a myriad of crystal
structures. Lava channels are prominent and one can ponder if the
surrounding geological areas compose with Skalanes the approx. 12 million
year old center of Iceland. But the bottom line is that a survey is needed at
Skalanes and generally more geological surveys around east Iceland.
The site is drained by two main water sheds from south to north which in
both cases only generate small rivers at their respective mouths. The site
contains many small wet areas and has not suffered from land drainage.
Along the larger of the two rivers there are several waterfalls.
4. Ecological information
Intertidal- rocky sea shore and pebble beach
Fresh water wetlands- pools, scrapes, flushes, bogs
Dwarf scrub/woodland communities
Various stages of successional habitats found upon eroded soils
4.2 Species of interest:
Icelandic Latin English Reason
Rangifer tarandus Reindeer Restricted to East
Kria Sterna paradisaea Arctic Tern
Long lasting co
existence with man in
Æðarfugul Somateria mollissima Common Eider
Fyll Fulmarus glacialis Fulmar
Lundi Fratercula arctica Puffin
Saxifraga aizoides Restricted to East
Gullsteinbrjotur Yellow saxifrage
For complete species listings to date see Species list appendix
5. Cultural information
5.1 Brief history of the site:
Iceland was settled between 870 and 930 AD, mostly by people from
Scandinavia (W-Norway) as well as the British Isles. The settlers scattered
around Iceland. In Seyðisfjörður there are known the names of two settlers,
Bjólfur and Án rammi. East Iceland is distinguished from other parts of
Iceland in that written documents are much scarcer. No written documents
relating to Skalanes have been preserved for the first few centuries after
settlement. However it is highly likely that Skalanes would have been
inhabited from around the time of settlement onwards. The location, the
view and abundant food made it an ideal place to settle in. Ruins on the
land also backup such a theory.
However, the history of Skálanes, as with many other places, is buried in
the past and the ground. Some facts may be found in documents but as yet
research has not been carried out in this area. It is likely at Skalanes that
we have an example of a “typical” Icelandic, self sufficient farm, where
food came from sheep farming, fishing and using other natural resources.
Few things were bought from merchants. Driftwood was probably used as a
valuable building material.
There are documents from late Middle-Ages that testify that the monastery
at Skriðuklaustur (over one hundred kilometres from Skalanes) had an area
of forest at Skalanes as extra resources.
For the last hundred years we have oral testimony to tell us fragments about
the history of Skalanes. What are evident from this are the frequent changes
of occupants on the farm. At least 4 different families lived there in the 20th
century. In the late sixties the farm was abandoned and conventional
farming has not been carried out there since.
This summer archaeologists visited the farm and recorded ruins on the land.
Over fifty were pointed out and differ obviously in age. Last year a small
research excavation was done on a square ruin close to the house that is
clearly visible on aerial photos.. From this trial excavation it was possible to
determine the ruin as a human dwelling from the 12th century or older.
Another very interesting ruin is a circle, very visible in the landscape, some
200 m south of the house. It is very visible, with thick walls, most probably
made of turf and stone, but what it was used for is not known.
Archaeologists who have seen it agree that it looks rather old but differ in
their explanations of what it might have been. It will not be possible to
decide without a proper archaeological excavation.
5.3 Human interaction with the environment:
People have lived from the natural resources found at Skalanes for 12
centuries which means that they have had a profound influence on the
environment. At the same time the environment has shaped how people
have made their living. This link is very important and will be central in the
holistic development of the site.
6. Aims and objectives
6.1 Key surveys:
Carry out a set of key surveys to act as a base for future research and
for interpretation of the site. The main areas being as follows:
• Vegetation survey – production of vegetation map of whole site
• Geology survey – at least important aspects i.e. cliffs
• Archaeology survey – map of all archaeological features occurring
on the site
• Others – Birds, invertebrates, sea floor, lower plants etc
Secure funding to enable the key surveys to be completed to the highest
possible standards. The results will act as a foundation for future research
works and be disseminated to the general public on site. Funds allowing,
these surveys will be completed during the first two years of the plan.
6.2 Climate monitoring:
Set up monitoring programmes for all aspects of daily weather and
climate and also a programme for monitoring the sea with the aim of
producing a long term data set for use by interested parties.
Purchase a weather station and marine monitoring buoy which both utilise
data logging technology. Down load the data to a lap top personal computer
and publish the data in a yearly report via the website.
6.3 Landscape management:
Various conservation management techniques will be trialled and
applied in the following areas:
• Re – forestation
• Erosion control
• Wetland habitat creation
Using a combination of centre staff and volunteers, methodologies will be
written for the above subjects (with the exception of re-forestation which is
already underway). Where possible these will make use of knowledge gained
else where in Iceland and may produce opportunities for working with other
In the case of the Lupin work will start immediately to prevent its spread.
Two brush cutters will be purchased and used for this purpose
6.4 Historical/cultural research:
Trace the history of settlement on the site with particular emphasis on
human interaction with the environment through the ages.
Develop a programme of archaeology to investigate the numerous remains
across the site. Restore a representative selection of the buildings. Carry
out specific research into human relationships with the land, what food they
ate, why they chose to live where they did, what materials they used and
how they influenced the environment of Skalanes.
6.5 Interpretation development:
Holistic and environmentally sound information dissemination will
become increasingly important as academic work is carried out at
Skalanes therefore the development of an infrastructure to support this
As the site is investigated a marked trail with interpretation will be created
so that people can self guide themselves around the key features. Also a
small booklet will be produced outlining the aims, background and
important elements of the Skalanes centre. This booklet will be available
for purchase; this will hopefully prevent it being a source of waste paper.
The web site will be used for allowing people access to more detailed
documents which will be downloadable in PDF format; there will also be
hard copies of these documents at Skalanes.
Boat trips are another underdeveloped feature of the site and with the
recently constructed pier now finished there is easy and safe access to the
waters edge. These trips would primarily be to explore the sea cliffs along
the eastern boundary of the site but could equally be tailored to the
interests of a given group. For this to work efficiently a boat specifically
equipped for this task would need to be purchased thus ensuring the safety
and comfort of those wishing to go to sea.
It is important to stress that all interpretation of the site will be as holistic
as possible to make sure that people get a rounded view of all that has
happened and is happening to make this site important.
6.6 Promote research opportunities:
As the site develops there will be an asserted effort to publicise the
facilities of the centre and the opportunities for study/research in East
The centre already has strong links with the following Icelandic
East Iceland nature agency
University centre – Höfn
East Iceland Heritage Museum
Also the following UK organisations:
Royal society for the protection of birds (RSPB)
National Trust for Scotland (NTS)
John Muir Trust
From these organisations come a great number of contacts and both the
number of organisations and contacts will grow as the centre grows. Being
known by and accessible to such people is promoting the centre and such
networking will naturally continue.
The web site will also have an area which states the facilities of the centre
and potential research topics.
The centre has already organised and held a successful nature exchange
receiving a select group of nature conservation professionals from leading
Scottish organisations and is in the process of organising the return
exchange which will hopefully be attended by key people from Iceland’s
6.7 Create volunteer opportunities:
Getting people involved in the everyday running of the centre and
offering volunteers a holistic introduction to East Iceland’s
environments and the issues there in. Volunteers are key to realising
some of the more labour intensive landscape management aims within
At least one volunteer work party will be organised for the site during the
summer of 2008. Participants will spend one or two weeks at Skalanes
carrying out a variety of nature conservation tasks. There will be
opportunities to learn about Icelandic natural history and the current issues
facing the countries natural resource as well as a two day tour into the
highlands at the end of their stay.
The success of this first work party will be evaluated and if successful a plan
developed to facilitate future volunteer programmes.
6.8 Management planning:
Start to develop a holistic management plan for all activities on the
To ensure the various management activities on the site do not conflict with
each other or contravene the Skalanes environmental policy a detailed plan
will be developed which will include each new aspect of the centre as and
when work begins. By 2012 a fully functioning rolling 5 year management
plan will be in place. There will be a meeting of all relevant staff and
partners each year to evaluate progress and set short term priorities for
7. Estimated costing
7.1 Skalanes input:
It is important to stress that the centre has already invested all available
resources to the development of its vision and will continue to do so
indefinitely. The below list covers the main investments in the centre to
The employment of a Ranger/Naturalist for the past three summers
Purchase of the site and subsequent renovation of the farm house,
cutting an access track and connection to the national grid
Construction of a pier for landing small boats
Construction of cliff edge viewing platform for observation of the sea
Purchasing of kit including a truck, two boats, six wheeled all terrain
bike, range of power tools etc
Creation of a web site
7.2 Capital funds and yearly maintenance costs:
Though the site has already seen a fair amount of financial investment there
is a need for certain capital works to be carried out so that the site can run
to its full potential. There is also a need for a yearly maintenance budget to
ensure that the centre develops in the direction that it aims for.
The centre would like to secure external funds to pay half of one persons
salary for six months during the summer so that there will be a trained
member of staff present on the site at all times. This person will act as a
hub for all activities upon the site.
7.3 Estimated costing summary:
For a full break down of the estimated costs see appendix
The next five years are important for the Skalanes nature and heritage
centre as the longer term vision is brought to light. With most of the
infrastructure now in place the centre moves into the next stage of its
development to realise the sites full potential through interpretation,
education and research covering many aspects of the Icelandic environment
By securing some external funding the centre will be able reach its main
aims in the coming years and become a valuable asset in the Icelandic
environmental sector as well as benefiting Seyðisfjorður and the East fjords
region both socially and economically.
9. Contact details
Skalanes nature and heritage centre,
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone – 690 6966
Wren Franklin - email@example.com – UK based nature conservation