Myvatn - Laxa

Year of compilation: 2000

Site description (baseline)
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).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The lake is threatened by commercial dredging for diatomite, by power-generation operations, and by urbanization. Fishing and tourism disturb birds and diving waterbirds are also killed in fishing nets. Erosion in the area is excessive. There is a research station at Skútustadir run by the Ministry of Environment.

Protected areas
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).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Myvatn - Laxa. Downloaded from on 06/06/2023.