The impact of tourist trampling on Icelandic Andosols

Gudrun Gisladottir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of trampling on Andosols covered by moss heath in W-Iceland (BMH), and moss heath (SMH) and dwarf shrub heath (S DSH) in SE-Iceland, was studied. The study sites are in the Snaefellsjökull National Park in the west and Skaftafell National Park in southeast, where hiking tourism is important. The aim of this paper is to examine the effect of trampling on vegetation cover and topsoil properties underlying different plant communities, located within the Skaftafell National Park and Snaefellsjökull National park and estimate their susceptibility to soil erosion. Changes in vegetation cover and physical and chemical properties were analysed from soil samples taken from paths and unaffected reference areas. The moss heath in Skaftafell (SMH) was more susceptible to trampling than the dwarf shrub heath (SDSH), reflected in degraded vegetation cover, larger track width, and area affected by trampling. Trampling caused an increase in dry bulk density and a decrease in organic C content in S MH, but did not change other soil parameters. The morphology of the tracks responded more negatively to trampling in moss heath than in the dwarf shrub heath. Given the extensive distribution of moss heath in Iceland, including in protected areas such as National Parks, increased knowledge about the effect of tourism on the ecosystem is important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-73
Number of pages19
JournalZeitschrift fur Geomorphologie, Supplementband
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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