Hvanneyri was protected as a habitat in 2002. In 2011, however, the habitat was expanded and named Andakíll. The aim of the protection is to promote the preservation and maintenance of the natural condition of diverse wetlands and the habitats of numerous bird species. The protection also guarantees access for the general public to the area for nature viewing and education. Furthermore, the aim of the protection is to ensure research opportunities and surveillance of the ecosystem of the area, with a focus on bird habitats and wetlands.

Where Is Hvanneyri?

Hvanneyri is in Borgarbyggð in the Borgarfjörður municipality. The boundaries of the nature reserve cover the Hvanneyri grounds from the boundaries that lie from Stóristokkur to Vatnshamravatn and there from Ausulækur over to the middle of Andakílsá and into Hvítá. The nature reserve covers an area of 3,085.3 ha.

Interesting facts

The Hvanneyri grounds are an important habitat of the greater white-fronted goose, and it is believed that up to 10% of the Greenlandic stock stop there in spring and fall. The grounds are protected in accordance with the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar 1971), the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern 1979) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio de Janeiro 1992)

Sites of Natural Interest

The nature reserve has numerous habitat services. These include the fertilization of wild plant species and the maintenance of biological and genetic variability, as the area is a habitat for wild plants and animals.

Usage fields and floodplains produce fodder and organic fertilizer that maintains the biological diversity of the area. The Hvanneyri grounds have considerable diversity in landscape and landforms and offer various opportunities for entertainment. Variability in natural surroundings has a high scientific and educational value, and the reserve is often utilized for teaching. Hvanneyri has important regulating services, and vegetation cover plays an important role in the regulation of runoff water both from land and from rivers, along with the ecosystems that provide natural protection against soil erosion, maintain soil quality and break down waste materials.

Hvanneyri has unusually large floodplains that cover over two hundred hectares. Because of the size and fertility of the plains, it was not only the Hvanneyri farm that had ownership of the plains, but also the surrounding farms including Lundareykjadalur and Norðurárdalur. Sources stating that farms from Húnavatnssýsla also used the plains exist and prove what major resources they were. According to sources, the floodplains have changed significantly in the last 50 years. The land has dried up and risen, and now it is only in the biggest floods that water reaches the bayland, where previously they were all flooded. The floodplains are dynamic and subject to change. Great importance has been placed on the connection between protection and the utilization of the floodplains and the wetlands all around Hvanneyri. The utilization has maintained vegetative variability that has a direct effect on the variability of bird populations in the area.

The visibility of nesting birds is high in the nature reserve. Around 40 species of nesting birds have been counted in the area, and 6 other species are known to nest nearby. There is rich birdlife both on the mudflats and the floodplains of the area. Birds that nest in the nature reserve include the common shelduck (see picture above), whooping swans, black-tailed godwits, white-tailed eagle (see picture on the side), short-eared owl, common redpoll, raven, starling, Arctic tern and red-necked phalaropes. The habitat protection of the white-fronted goose covers the Hvanneyri grounds. The white-fronted goose’s utilization method is that it feeds on the floodplains, uses Vatnshamravatn for bathing and then spends nights down in the baylands. The common shelduck has been counted every few years, and the total has been around 400500 birds in fall. The ratio of chicks is high, around 4048%. The common shelduck nests in Borgarvogur, Grímólfsvík, by Einarsnes, Ferjubakki, along Grímsá and Hvítá, Andakílsá and Langá and west to Mýrar in Löngufjörur.

Around 132 higher plants have been counted in total in the Hvanneyri reserve, thereof 2025 sedge species. Around 50 species of moss have also been counted, along with around 25 species of lichens.

Cultural Heritage

The floodplains have had a great effect on life in Hvanneyri. It could be argued that the development of the agricultural school Búnaðarskóli, later Bændaskóli and then LBHÍ, can largely or entirely be traced to the floodplains, and they are probably the reason why people settled in the area. The floodplains are a very important part of the natural surroundings of the area, and the same goes for their utilization. As a sign of the great floods, there is a levee along the bayland. It is believed that even further changes will take place in the coming years and decades with a changed vegetation composition and shifting of the river to the west. Many place names in the area refer the old livestock herding that was common in the past, such as Selið, Stekkjarholtin, Nátthagi, where there’s a corral from the time when sheep were milked and they were kept in enclosures overnight. North of Nátthagi are ruins, and nearby is a hill called Ásgarður, where a farm by the same name once stood. Underneath are probably the farm’s ruins.

In the wetlands are remains that are probably connected to the operations of the school. There are abundant relics of irrigation and regulation of the utilization of the floodplains, but after 1910, dispersing and controlling all water levels through irrigation, which is an ancient method of cultivation, was common. This method of farming (floodplain cultivation) was used in Iceland until 1950 and is a relic of what was the main substance of the cultivation of Icelandic farmers in the early 20th century. These areas are incredibly noteworthy because they are the intermediate stage between the pure utilization of pastures and the cultivation of the floodplains.

In Kinnin below Ásgarður and the old principal’s house are the so-called bedplains. The land was cultivated in beds, which has ancient foreign roots and stretches to present day into the canalized fields, which were part of draining water. These are very abundant relics. Part of this levelling that took place there was to dry the hay that was brought down from the floodplains. This shows the cultivation patterns of days gone by. Cultivation technologies can be read in the grounds as a whole, from the early 20th century onwards from the bedplains, through the floodplain cultivation and up until people start trying to drain the marshes.

What changed all conduct on the Hvanneyri grounds was the Ring Road, since with it, the main way home to Hvanneyri became the way by land. Before that people travelled by sea which explains why the buildings face the way they do; today, the approach to the houses is from the back.

The ruins of the old church are still visible on the hill next to the cemetery. The new church was consecrated in 1905.


Hvanneyri is approx. 12 km from Borgarnes. So there is nothing to prevent you from visiting the nature reserve all year round. An agricultural university is operated in the area, and there is a large settlement around it. Bird hunting is prohibited in the nature reserve. Construction and disturbance of the ground in the Hvanneyri floodplains is subject to permission from the Environment Agency.