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In 2017-2018 a holistic Destination Management Plan (DMP) has been developed by NOHNIK for the Katla UNESCO Global Geopark territory in Iceland. The overall aim was to achieve a sustainable leisure landscape in which ecological quality, economic prosperity and cultural history are preserved and stimulated – taking into account both the perspective of local stakeholders and visitors.

Katla Geopark offers a stunning geological showcase including moss-covered lava fields from different ages and origins, glaciers, glacial rivers, highlands, vast areas of pseudo-craters and black beaches. These elements form the main drawcard of the area for tourism. However, there is a lack of balance between current recreational use and the sensitivity of the arctic landscape. Decisions on where to locate (new) tourism infrastructure, facilities and destinations are currently mainly based on short-term pragmatic considerations rather than in connection with an in-depth knowledge of the landscape.

Based on field research different landscape entities and their carrying capacity were determined. Related to this, different experiences and types of land-use were identified related to the different target groups of tourists and their demands. Target groups were described according to the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) and the Purism Scale model (Stankey, 1973; Sæþórsdóttir, 2010; Ólafsdóttir, et.al. 2016). The ROS model underpins the importance of offering different experiences for different target groups in the area within a spectrum of Urbanists vs. Purists.

This approach indicates the level of infrastructure and development that should be offered within the different landscape entities and to the different target groups. It aims to plan and design each location with specific target groups in mind, instead of trying to satisfy each individual. This theoretical base was transformed into an on-site zoning plan for the whole Katla Geopark territory. Within this plan different focal points were determined to streamline the flow of tourists through the area. As an example, site-specific architectural designs were made for some of the focal points.

Within the project we closely collaborated with local stakeholders, the three municipalities, tourism industry and the geopark. In 2016 NOHNIK developed a masterplan for the nearby Skaftárhreppur region (see project page), in collaboration with the University of Iceland and local stakeholders.

More info about the geopark on Katla Geopark

Year: 2017
Type: landscape, leisure, architecture
Client: Katla UNESCO Global Geopark
Size: 10.000 km2
Status: Destination Management Plan finished in October 2017