Rapid recession of the glacier beside a popular tourist destination worries local people in southeast Iceland. Local operators are becoming more and more dependent on tourism that is still entirely based on natural attractions. At the same time, however, the area is very dynamic and constantly facing environmental change and subsequent risk. Stakeholder workshops in BuSK project have been arranged in order to find solutions to these problems.
In Iceland one of two BuSK case studies is approaching an end. Being a part of WP2, which focusses on the relationships between state agencies and local communities and the intricacies of collaboration in land-use management decision making, this Icelandic case concentrates on the planning of recreation land-uses of glacier sites. Aim is to develop a GIS grounded participatory approach to support the planning of nature based recreational sites, and to test the approach in a glacier site in southeast Iceland, called Þröng, that yet has very difficult access and no tourism infrastructure, but very close to one of Iceland’s most popular tourist site, Jökulsárlón. It is currently being used by few local tourism operators. Due to rapid recession of the glacier since the turn of the last century the area is very dynamic and constantly facing environmental changes and subsequent risk. The rate of these changes seems to be increasing, at the same time as tourism is increasing as well as the local operators’ dependency on tourism and these natural resources.
The location of the case study site (marked by the red rectangle) in SE Iceland. The black star represents the location of the popular tourist site, Jökulsárlón.
During period 1, a focus group was carefully selected including local stakeholders (local authorities, tourism entrepreneurs, and NGOs) and scientists. The focus group held three workshops, the first one focussing on current state of the area, the second one on the development of future spatial scenarios of recreational land-use and the last one on adaptation options to deal with future recreation land-use threats and opportunities. The DPSIR framework was used to support the stakeholders’ analyses of the area‘s driving forces, pressures, impacts of different land uses and suitable adaptive responses, in a search for acceptable land use forms and its management.
All three workshops were very successful and produced valuable discussions between the different stakeholders, as well as increased understanding of the potential threats and opportunities following different land use issues in the area, such as reduced site accessibility, degrated tourist experiences, excessive destination managment, increased risks of accidents, eduction opportunities and development of eco-tourism Furthermore, the use of spatial maps to present potential future recreation land-use scenarios supported the stakeholders’ assessment regarding potential threats and opportunities of future recreational land-uses. The methodological development and information collected in this case study through participatory action research (PAR) and PGIS resource will be used as an input to from guidelines to decisions and policy makers.