Act on the Icelandic Institute of Natural History and Natural History Museum Centres No. 60 of 1 June 1992

Entered into effect 1 January 1993. Amended by Act No. 93/1996 (entered into effect 1 January 1997), Act No. 83/1997 (entered into effect 11 January 1999). Act No. 92/2002 (entered into effect 31 May 2002) and Act No. 164/2002 (entered into effect 1 January 2003).

Chapter 1. On the Icelandic Institute of Natural History

Article 1 This Act deals with the Icelandic Institute of Natural History and with natural history museum branches ... (Act No. 92/2002, Article 1), co-ordination of the activities of these legal entities and their collaboration in research and educational activities.

The Minister for the Environment supervises the affairs covered by the Act.

Article 2 The Icelandic Institute of Natural History shall be the property of the Icelandic State.

The Institute may establish up to five branches each having independent finances. In addition to the branch in Reykjavik, the Minister may provide for one branch in each of the four quarters of Iceland after having received the opinion of the [head] (Act No. 169/1998, Article 1) of the institution and in tune with national budget appropriations. 

Article 3 [The Minister shall appoint the Director of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History for a term of five years. The Director shall have a university degree and possess knowledge of the purview of the Institution. The Director hires the heads of the branches and other personnel of the Institute.

The Director is responsible for the management of the Institute and for its financial operations. The Director shall formulate the Institute's policy in consultation with the heads of the branches. The Director approves the budgets for the branches and monitors their finances and appropriation of funds.The finances of individual branches are in other respects the responsibility of the head of each branch.

The Director shall annually convene the personnel of the Institute of Natural History and the heads of natural history centres in order to co-ordinate the operations and to report on the results of research.

The Minister shall issue regulations (Reg. 229/1993) containing further instructions on the role and job responsibilities of the Directors and the heads as well as on the residence of the Director at any given time.] (Act No. 169/1998, Article 2).

Article 4 The Icelandic Institute of Natural History conducts basic zoological, botanical and geological research in Iceland and organises of the gathering of source material on Icelandic nature. It maintains research results and scientific specimen collections that may provide the best overview of Icelandic nature.

The principal tasks of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History are:

a. to conduct scientific research on Icelandic nature,

b. to preserve natural history objects, scientific papers and other data in collections of scientific source materials and to develop an accessible database with the most complete references on Icelandic nature.

c. to systematically record particular aspects of Icelandic nature and to manage the production and publication of maps, i.a. geological maps and maps on the distribution of species,

d. to support the build up of museums with permanent exhibitions of natural history by supplying information and advice and by disseminating knowledge concerning Icelandic nature to schools, the media and the public in general,

e. to provide instruction on the moderate exploitation of natural resources and to provide assistance, through research, in assessing the conservation value of ecosystems and natural history objects and the impact of construction work and other land-use on nature,

f. to conduct research on mammal and bird wild stock .... (Act No. 164/2002, Article20),

g. to administer the marking of birds, the Institute of Natural History being the sole authority to having wild birds in Iceland marked,

h. to disclose the results of research in educational and scientific literature and to describe the main parts of the institute's operations in an annual report,

[i. to record systematically the bedrock and soil of Iceland and to work on the classification of natural resource areas based on type of mineral, quantity, availability, quality and conservation value. When assessing the conservation value the Institute of Natural History must consult [the Environment and Food Agency]. (Act No. 164/2002, Article20)] (Act No. 169/1998, Article 3)

Article 5 [The Icelandic Institute of Natural History may charge a fee to meet the operating costs of the research and consultancy services that are subject to Article 4, analysis because of import and export of animals and plants subject to the treaty on the international trade in wildlife in risk of extinction, control for research and the use of thermal spring microbes according to the Act on the research and exploitation of subterranean resources, export licensing for natural history objects and for the analysis of natural history samples. The Minister may issue a rate list for the above mentioned activities after having received the recommendations of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History.

The Icelandic Institute of Natural History may accept contributions, scientific grants, scientific specimens, natural history objects and comparable gifts from individuals or other parties.] (Act No. 92/2002, Article 2)

Article 6 The Institute of Natural History shall have access to such scientific information which public institutions may provide and concern its field of work. The reports of Icelandic and foreign scientists regarding the research on the nature of Iceland must be preserved in the Institute of Natural History source material database.

The Institute of Natural History has an obligation to preserve scientific information and scientific results in an accessible way and to provide access to them according to specific rules.

The basic data on Icelandic nature kept by the Institution, such as on the markings of birds and their recovery, information on the distribution of plants and animals, as well as registered museum samples, shall be accessible for scientists for further research and be classified in a co-ordinated manner.

The Minister, having obtained the opinion of the [Director] (Act No. 169/1998, Article 4), shall issue detailed rules on the implementation of the provisions of this Article. 

Article 7 The centres of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History may be departmentalised.Department heads and the specialists of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History must have completed university level exams in the particular scientific field or be otherwise accredited scientists in their field of expertise. Their job responsibilities shall be provided for in a regulation. (Reg. 229/1993, Act No. 169/1998, Article 5)

Article 8 The Icelandic Institute of Natural History may with the permission of the Minister become a member of permanent exhibition museums operated by parties other than the State. The Institute will aid in the making of exhibitions and it may lend out objects from the branches' museum collections for shorter or longer periods.

Chapter 2. Natural History Museum Branches

Article 9 [The Minister may authorise the operation of up to eight natural history museum centres that are to be operated by municipalities regardless of the geographical limits of constituent districts. An agreement between the minister and any municipality taking part in the operation of such centre must be drawn up for each separate natural history museum centre. Natural history museum centres and the Icelandic Institute of Natural History shall take up cooperation according to further decision in each instance.] (Act No. 92/2002, Article 3)

Article 10 [One, or more, municipalities may own and operate a natural history museum centre with government support. Responsibility for the operation and the activities of a natural history museum centre lies with municipalities that have entered into an agreement regarding its operation.The government contribution to a natural history museum centre is determined according to the national budget from time to time, equalling an amount corresponding to the salary of the head of the centre holding a full time position with the addition of an amount that is up to equal that amount and shall go to the operation of a natural history museum centre. The government contribution is conditional upon an already drawn up agreement regarding the operation of a natural history museum centre, cf. Article 9. The agreement shall i.a. provide for the location and the geographical area of work of the natural history museum centre, the state contribution and the financial commitments of municipalities to the centre's operation and shall be based on 30% of the state's contribution] (Act No. 92/2002, Article 4)

Article 11 [The principal roles of a natural history museum centre are as follows:

a. to gather data, preserve source material on nature and to conduct scientific research of nature, in particular in those parts of Iceland where the natural history museum centre operates,

b. to promote a desirable level of land use and preservation of nature, and to provide education on environmental matters and on natural history science, and to aid in the preparation of natural history exhibitions,

c. to provide nature conservation committees in the geographical working area of the centre with information and advice in its field of operation according to the decision of the board of the natural history museum centre in each instance,

d. to provide consultation, conduct research and to monitor, for payment, a natural history museum centre's field of activity, according to the requests of municipalities, the government or their agencies, individuals, companies or other parties,

e. to manage the general monitoring of the nature of Iceland, cf. Article 7 of the Nature Conservation Act, No. 44/1999, in particular in those parts of the country where the natural history museum centre operates, [the Environment and Food Agency] (Act No. 164/2002, Article 21) shall draw up an agreement for such monitoring with the natural history museum centre which then must be confirmed by the Minister.] (Act No. 92/2002, Article 5)

[Natural history museum centres shall, prior to the end of April of each year, return a report to the Minister regarding their activities during the previous year, including the annual accounts.] (Act No. 92/2002, Article 5)

The natural history museum centre may become a member of a museum holding permanent exhibitions, but the museum and the centre shall have separate finances.

Article 12 [The board of a natural history museum centre shall be appointed following each municipal elections. A municipality or municipalities that operate a natural history museum shall appoint three members to the board, one of which shall be the chairman. Alternates shall be appointed in the same manner.] (Act No. 92/2002, Article 6)

Article 13 The board of a natural history museum centre shall hire a head of the centre, take up for discussion the budget for the centre, and monitors its finances and operations.

[The board of a natural history museum centre may issue a rate list for research work, monitoring and consultation in the centre's field of work, cf. paragraph 1, sub-paragraph d of Article 11] (Act No. 92/2002, Article 7)

Article 14 The head of a natural history museum centre shall have a university level degree in natural sciences or knowledge that may be considered of equal status. The head of the centre represents the natural history museum centre as a whole, acts as its daily administrator and hires other staff with the approval of the board, according to appropriated funds for each period.

Chapter 3. General Provisions

Article 15 Naturalists and their assistants who conduct general research of nature, or the collection of natural history objects and other source material concerning nature on behalf of the government, shall have free conduct through privately owned property, endeavouring to avoid any unnecessary inconvenience and will be liable for full damages for any damage they may cause.

The same parties, furthermore, may collect natural history objects from any location without remuneration. This, however, does not apply to natural history objects that are of financial value to the owner of the land or to other legal owners of the land.

In the event that research reveals hitherto unknown valuables, the research party shall inform the legal holder of rights to the land where the valuables are located.

Natural history objects may not be exported from Iceland except with the permission of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History and under the conditions set by the Institute on each occasion. [The same applies to micro-organisms originating in geothermal areas and their genetic material.] (Act No. 169/1998, Article 6)

Article 16 The Minister may by the way of regulations (Reg. 229/1993, reg. 385/1994, reg. 643/1995, reg. 512/1997, reg. 96/1998, reg. 589/2001) issue detailed provisions regarding the organisation and the operation of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History and of national history museum branches ... (Act No. 92/2002, Article 8)

Article 17 This Act shall enter into force on January 1 1993.


Interim provisions. ...