Reclamation of Wetlands

With the reclamation of wetlands, the process revolves around sequestration of carbon in the soil.

Verkís provides consultation to municipalities and companies regarding the reclamation of wetlands and the creation of action plans for that purpose.

Return to a previous state

A large part of the wetlands in the lowlands has been disturbed by drainage, but since the late 20th century, the state has subsidised such projects. 34.000 km of canals were dug, which disturbed about 4,200 km2 of land.

Wetland soil is very carbon rich. Carbon accumulates in bog soils because they are water-saturated and oxygen-poor. The conditions are unfavorable for saprophytes, and the organic mass generated every year does not break down except to a small extent, but accumulates instead.

When wetlands are drained, the water level drops, the ground temperature rises, and oxygen becomes available. This causes organic matter, which has accumulated over the centuries, to begin to decompose, with the associated release of greenhouse gases. With the reclamation of wetlands, the process reverses and net sequestration of carbon begins again.

Drained wetlands are largely responsible for CO2 emissions in Iceland. Therefore, wetland reclamation is a powerful way to combat climate change. When the land gets wet again when the canals are closed, there are many changes that occur. Wetland vegetation replaces dryland vegetation and the composition of the birdlife changes.


  • Comprehensive planning for wetland restoration with larger organisational units
  • Consultation for municipalities and private parties on the implementation of reclamation
  • Action plans


Arnór Þórir Sigfússon
Animal Ecologist Ph.D.
Field : Infrastructure

Þórhildur Guðmundsdóttir
Civil Engineer M.Sc.
Field : Infrastructure