A mission statement was signed yesterday regarding the establishment of a national park in the central highlands of Iceland. Musician Björk Guðmundsdóttir and her father, Guðundur Gunnarsson, have been at the forefront of this effort. Former President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir has also lent the battle her voice.
More than twenty organizations are behind this statement, including environmental ones, as well as associations in tourism and outdoor activities. The park would comprise close to 40 percent of the country, or 40,000 km2 (15,500 miles2), including the Vatnajökull Park, which is 14,000 km2 (5,400 miles2).
The organizations are asking the public to sign their petition to protect the highlands and requesting donations to support the effort. They see a national park as essential in protecting the pristine nature of the country, which draws tourists in ever increasing number, thus, making it not only environmentally, but also economically essential. They want to preserve the landscape as it is and fight any irrevocable development in the highlands.
Part of the statement reads:“The organizations and associations which stand behind this mission statement wish to achieve as comprehensive a unity as possible concerning the protection of the central highland of Iceland by establishing a national park to be owned by the Icelandic nation as a whole. We believe that a Highland National Park will be Iceland’s greatest possible contribution to the protection of nature. It will improve and strengthen Iceland’s image as a nation supporting the preservation of pristine land and wildlife and will be of tremendous benefit to all those who visit Iceland as well as to Icelanders themselves. The national park will be a sanctuary for those who wish to enjoy the natural environment of the central highland, and who take pleasure in outdoor activities and relish the first-hand experience of pure nature.”