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Location Iceland, Sudur-Fingeyjarsýsla
Central coordinates 17o 0.00' West  65o 36.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3
Area 10,200 ha
Altitude 0 - 310m
Year of IBA assessment 2000

Fuglavernd - BirdLife Iceland (Partner Designate)

Site description A shallow eutrophic lake (Mývatn) with many islands and fed by cold and thermal springs. There are numerous small lakes, pools, bogs and sedge marshes (Carex, Eriophorum) in the surrounding area. The Laxá river drains the lake into Skjálfandi bay. `Rocky areas' here are lava. Land-uses include farming, fishing, energy production (hydroelectric and geothermal), mining and tourism.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus non-breeding  500-700 individuals  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus winter  223 individuals  good  B1i, B3  Least Concern 
Greater Scaup Aythya marila breeding  1989  3,275 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus breeding  222 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i, B2  Least Concern 
Barrow's Goldeneye Bucephala islandica breeding  1,110 breeding pairs  good  B2  Least Concern 
Goosander Mergus merganser winter  1986  99 individuals  B1i  Least Concern 
Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus breeding  1990  140 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Mÿvatn-Laxá Conservation Area 440,000 protected area contains site 10,200  
Myvatn-Laxá region (part) Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 20,000 protected area contains site 10,200  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Heathland; Scrub  30%
Grassland   10%
Wetlands (inland) Fens, transition mires and springs; Rivers and streams; Standing freshwater; Water fringe vegetation  50%
Coastline   10%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
tourism/recreation -
urban/industrial/transport -
nature conservation and research -

Protection status National High International High10,200 ha of IBA covered by Conservation Area (Mývatn-Laxá, 440,000 ha). 10,200 ha of IBA covered by Ramsar Site (Mývatn-Laxá, 20,000 ha).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mývatn-Laxá. Downloaded from on 23/10/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife