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Management Strategy 2007 2012

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  • 1. Skalanes Nature and Heritage centre management strategy 2007 – 2012 Prepared September 2007 By Wren Franklin
  • 2. Contents 1. Introduction 2. Site details 2.1 Location and access 2.2 Status and ownership 2.3 Site particulars 2.4 Site infrastructure 3. Environmental information 3.1 Climate 3.2 Altitude 3.3 Topography 3.4 Geology 3.5 Hydrology 4. Ecological information 4.1 Habitats 4.2 Species of interest 5. Cultural information 5.1 Brief history of the site 5.2 Archaeology 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
  • 3. 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 8. Conclusion 9. Contact details Appendixes 1. Site map 2. Species lists 3. Costs 4. Environmental policy
  • 4. 1. Introduction 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 constructed pier. 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 • Electricity • Pier for landing small boats • Restoration/renovation of farm house •
  • 5. • Cliff edge viewing platforms • Marked trail with foot bridges 3. Environmental information 3.1 Climate: 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 3.2 Altitude: From sea level around the coastal boundaries to approximately 750 meters at the highest point 3.3 Topography: 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. 3.4 Geology: 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. 3.5 Hydrology: 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 4.1 Habitats: Marine • Intertidal- rocky sea shore and pebble beach • Cliffs • Riparian •
  • 6. 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 • 4.2 Species of interest: Icelandic Latin English Reason Rangifer tarandus Reindeer Restricted to East Exceptionally large Kria Sterna paradisaea Arctic Tern breeding population Long lasting co existence with man in Æðarfugul Somateria mollissima Common Eider Iceland Protected breeding Rissa tridactyla Rita Kittiwake colonies Protected breeding Fyll Fulmarus glacialis Fulmar colonies Protected breeding Lundi Fratercula arctica Puffin colonies 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.
  • 7. 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. 5.2 Archaeology: 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:
  • 8. 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: • Lupin • 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 research projects. 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 is crucial. 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.
  • 9. 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 Iceland. The centre already has strong links with the following Icelandic organisations: 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 environmental sector. 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
  • 10. environments and the issues there in. Volunteers are key to realising some of the more labour intensive landscape management aims within the plan. 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 site. 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 ongoing work. 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 date: 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 • bird colonies Purchasing of kit including a truck, two boats, six wheeled all terrain • bike, range of power tools etc Creation of a web site • Graphical design • 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
  • 11. 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 8. Conclusion 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 and history. 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, 710 Seyðisfjorður, Iceland Email – skalanes@skalanes.com Telephone – 690 6966 Wren Franklin - wrenfranklin@yahoo.co.uk – UK based nature conservation contractor Appendixes