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Board and regional councils

Vatnajökull National Park is both a territory and an independent government agency, which reports directly to the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate. The governance structure of Vatnajökull National Park is decentralized and highly participatory, which is very unique for a government institution in Iceland.

Organisational structure of Vatnajökull National Park

The uniqueness of the management system lies largely in the fact that local governments in the territory of the National Park and interested parties nominate the main and observer representatives in the board and regional council. The involvement of these parties ensures the involvement of municipalities, environmental protection organizations and various stakeholders in policy making and decision-making that may affect their interests within the National Park.

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One of the main advantages of the arrangement is an active and broad conversation about strategic planning and other issues of a land area that covers 15% of the country and is mostly owned by the state. Challenges include etc. the involvement of many people in decision-making, complexity and time-consuming process of matters. It must also always be ensured that the principles of administrative law are respected and that relevant considerations and public interests lie behind every decision. The financial operation of the National Park must also be within the budget and in accordance with the law on public finances and other relevant legislation. It is therefore an ongoing task to improve governance and ensure efficient and legitimate decision-making and exemplary operation of the National Park. The strengthening of central support office services in recent years is an important part of this effort.

About the board of Vatnajökull National Park

The board of Vatnajökull National Park is appointed according to Article 4 Act no. 60/2007 on Vatnajökull National Park, for four years at a time. The board consists of seven members: four chairmen of the regional councils of the National Park, one member nominated by an environmental protection organization and two members, a chairman and a vice-chairman, appointed by the Minister of the Environment without nomination. Outdoor associations nominate one representative and tourism associations one, who have audience membership at the meetings of the board. Alternates are appointed in the same way.

The board of Vatnajökull National Park shall meet as necessary, but not less often than every three months, and its decisions shall be made in accordance with the provisions of the National Park´s law at its meetings. The regional council can, if it deems it necessary to seek the position or decision of the board on a specific issue, request that a meeting be held in the board of the National Park. The strength of votes determines the outcome of matters at meetings of the board. Administrative law applies to the decisions of the board. The board of the National Park is authorized to hire a manager or enter into an agreement with another public institution or company to take care of the day-to-day operations and administration of the board.

Main roles of Vatnajökull National Park´s board

  1. The formulation of policies relating to the National Park
  2. Overall management of the preparation of a proposals for a managment plan and regulation for the National Park
  3. Preparation of the National Park budget, allocation of funds to the four areas and the approval of individual operating plans
  4. Harmonization of operations within the four National Park areas
  5. Monitoring the implementation of the National Park's rules and the managment plan
  6. Co-operation with public bodies, local authorities and stakeholders in the affairs of the National Park

About the regional councils of Vatnajökull National Park

The operational areas of Vatnajökull National Park are run as independent business units under the responsibility of the respective Park Manager, and the boundaries of the operational areas are specified in the Vatnajökull National Park regulation no. 608/2008, with subsequent amendments.

The regional council is appointed for four years at a time according to Article 7 Act no. 60/2007 on Vatnajökull National Park. The regional council shall consist of six representatives: three representatives nominated by the local governments of the municipalities in the relevant operational area, one representative jointly nominated by tourism organizations in the relevant area, one representative nominated by outdoor recreation organizations and one representative nominated by environmental protection organizations. The same parties nominate the same number of deputies who are appointed in the same way. The regional council elects a chairman from among the local councilors and a deputy chairman. The respective Park Manager attends regional council meetings.

Main roles of Vatnajökull National Park´s regional boards

  • provide the Park Manager and the National Park's Board with advice on the affairs of the National Park
  • prepare proposals for managment plans
  • propose operating plans for each area within the cost budget as determined by the Board from time to time
  • submit proposals for the recruitment of Park Manager for each area.