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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.

Key Biodiversity The site holds 20,000 or more waterbirds on a regular basis. Some duck species˜Anas penelope, Aythya fuligula and Aythya marila˜breed at higher densities than anywhere else in Europe. Other notable birds include diverse breeding waterbirds, raptors and passerines, and, outside the breeding season, moulting Mergus merganser (365 birds; mean 1975-1989).

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  1976-1986  223-276 individuals  good  B1i, B3  Least Concern 
Greater Scaup Aythya marila breeding  1975-1989  3,275 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus breeding  1975-1989  222 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2  Least Concern 
Barrow's Goldeneye Bucephala islandica breeding  1975-1989  1,110 individuals  good  B2  Least Concern 
Goosander Mergus merganser winter  1976-1986  99 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus breeding  1990  140 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2015 medium not assessed medium
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Energy production and mining renewable energy likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  medium 

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 (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Mývatn-Laxá. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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