The primary role of the IINH is to conduct basic research on the zoology, botany and geology of Iceland; to handle systematic documentation of nature in Iceland; and to preserve research findings and specimens in scientific collections.
The IINH maintains databases on nature in Iceland and is charged with maintaining an overview and providing advice and instruction on nature conservation and natural resource allocation. It also has a broad monitoring and educational role.
The IINH is the property of the Icelandic state and operates under Act No. 60/1992. It is under the aegis of the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources.