The Management Plan is the principal tool for managing the National Park. The current version (3rd edition) of the Management Plan entered into effect on 5 July 2022.
The first edition of the Management Plan for Vatnajökull National Park was approved in 2011 and improved in the 2nd edition in 2013. In connection with new areas within the National Park, appendices have been written regarding Krepputunga and Breiðamerkursandur. Considering developments in tourism, nature conservation and administration, certain aspects of the Plan were taken for reconsideration in 2021, the aforesaid appendices were added and provisions regarding hunting in the eastern part were reconsidered. The outcome was the 3rd edition of the Management and Conservation Plan for Vatnajökull National Park, which entered effect on 5 July 2022.
It is provided in the Act on Vatnajökull National Park that a conservation plan shall be put in place wherein shall be described the major aspects of conservation and land use within the National Park. The Plan is based on proposals from municipal councils of the National Park and policy formulation of municipal councils and the Board of Directors in consultation with many interested parties. The Management Plan is important when it comes to decision-making, and according to the Act on Vatnajökull National Park, municipal councils are bound by its content when they establish master plans for territory that lies within the boundaries of Vatnajökull National Park. Thus, the Management Plan takes precedent over the master plans of municipal councils, with the prerequisite that municipalities are involved with local council within the National Park.
The Management Plan is the principal instrument for controlling the National Park and a tool for policymaking. Accordingly, it is intended as a policy-forming plan which the Directors of Vatnajökull will refer to when making decisions regarding the management and organisation of the National Park.
The Plan includes objectives that have been set concerning conservation, the policy of the Board of Directors and ways in which relevant provisions can be enacted. Fundamentally, the Plan is based on the objectives of Vatnajökull National Park regarding conservation, accessibility, education and research and the flourishing of the economy and community. The provisions of the Management Plan concern among other things individual areas, conservation efforts, land use, construction of buildings, transportation as well as the legal right of access to and the accessibility of areas. The policy also addresses the potential to take advantage of opportunities that arise due to the establishment of the National Park, how to build on those that already exist and to create new ones.
The Management Plan is made on the basis of suggestions from local councils within the National Park. The Plan is intended to reflect the joint expectations and plans of parties involved with diverse efforts, outdoor pursuits, or are otherwise involved in activities within the National Park's area of operations. The objectives of the Plan are established with the intention that the Directors of the National Park and other public bodies can fulfil their duties in the best way possible, and are also capable through their actions, management and procedures to support other parties in their efforts to reach their goals for the benefit of the running of the National Park and nearby areas.
If the area of the National Park is expanded, appendices will be added to the Management Plan regarding new areas. According to the Act, the Management Plan shall be reviewed at least every 10 years.
Plans in progress
Annexes are currently being worked on for Herðubreið and the part of Ódáðahraun that were added to the National Park in 2019. Furthermore, work is ongoing on annexes for the areas that were added to the National Park in 2021, i.e. Austurafrétt Bárðdæla, Sandfell in Öræfi and Hoffellslambatungur. In addition to the aforementioned additions, the Management Plan is to be reviewed in its entirety. For this work, it is necessary to carefully review basic assumptions such as conservation value and zoning, as well as the organization of infrastructure with regard to different interest groups. The prerequisite for that work is extensive consultation with relevant professional organizations and stakeholders. In all work on Management Plans, Vatnajökull National Park aims for transparency and good information.