Wikimedia. Creative Commons. Credit: TommyZ
Heiðmörk is a conservation area on the outskirts of Reykjavík, popular amongst locals and visitors for recreational activities.
Heiðmörk was established as a conservation area in 1950, following reforestation efforts to the region that began in 1949, near the farm of Elliðvatn, named after the adjacent lake of the same name.
Five hundred of each Norway spruce and Sikta Sprice, and eight thousand Scots pines, were planted, and this has since bloomed into a thriving woodland.
Since its creation, Heiðmörk has grown as a protected area to incorporate new areas, and as it has done so, the protections themselves have grown. In 1961, it was declared a national monument, and in 1974, a public field.
It now covers about 3,000 hectares.
Heiðmörk is also where Reykjavík’s water reservoirs are held.
Heiðmörk’s forests have grown exponentially since the first seeds were buried. To date, over four million trees have been planted, of twenty six different species. Furthermore, nearly two hundred species of different wild flower have been found.
Heiðmork holds Lake Elliðvatn, which helps contribute to its wealth of birdlife. Over sixty species have been identified in the area.
Like any other Icelandic location with good hiding places, Arctic Foxes have been seen here, although are notoriously elusive.
Besides its lakes, waterways, forests and lava fields, Heiðmörk also boasts being home to ‘the red hills’, or Rauðhólar. These 5,200-year-old, red pseudo-craters are vivid and distinctive, but also used to be more dramatic before many were dismantled for road construction in World War Two.
Since being part of Heiðmörk, the craters have been protected from further damage.