Þjórsárver nature reserve in the central highlands of Iceland was expanded yesterday by the Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, Vísir reports. The total area of the reserve will be just under 1,563 square kilometres (603 square miles), quadrupling the area it previously covered.
“This is a struggle which has lasted 45 years,” said Sigþrúður Jónsdóttir, chairman of Vinir Þjórsárvera (Friends of Þjórsárver), referencing a meeting her father co-organized in 1972 to campaign for the area’s protection.
“This has been a struggle for decades and has been a long, long time coming, since this area is one of the crown jewels of Iceland,” Sigþrúður added. “Everything that is unique about the [Icelandic] highlands can be found there. The signature is hopefully the final word in protecting the area completely and getting rid of all power plant ideas.”
Þjósarver area was first protected in 1981. Before yesterday’s expansion, the protected area covered 358 square kilometres (138 square miles), or less than a fourth of its current size.
Þjórsárver includes marshes and grassy plains and is located between Hofsjökull glacier and Sprengisandur highland plateau. One third of all pink-footed geese in the world breed in the nature reserve. It is also the only area in Iceland that contains vegetation at an altitude above 600 metres (1,970 feet).