A very important petition is now active which aims to create a National Park in the mostly unspoiled highland interior of Iceland. A coalition of groups here in Iceland is behind this project and this is a cause that is quite close to my heart. Below is an article written by Steinar Kaldal, Project manager of Hálendið-Iceland National Park. Please sign the petition and follow this project on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.

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The Icelandic central highlands offers extraordinary scenery and forms one of the largest remaining areas of uncultivated land in Europe.

Although beautiful nature and this kind of vast wilderness can of course be found elsewhere, such as in the Arctic or the Namib Desert, in no other place can a traveller experience the same variety of nature that unfolds before the eyes during a few days in the central highlands of Iceland.

This great variety of landscape featuring dynamic nature with alien-like features is what makes the highland region unique, surprising the spectator with glaciers, glacial rivers, glacially sculpted landscapes, barren plateaus, colorful geothermal areas, clear springs, lava fields, steep and odd shaped mountains and mountain rigs, permafrost areas, and beautifully colored tundra vegetation.

Stóru Laxárgljúfur canyon - it is endangered.
Stóru Laxárgljúfur canyon – it is endangered.

However, over the last few decades the energy industry has been pressing for the construction of power plants, reservoirs and overhead power lines which would ruin the natural uniqueness of the area. For that reason, environmental NGOs, outdoor organizations and the Icelandic Travel Industry Association have formed a coalition with the goal of establishing a national park in the central highlands. The coalition represents outdoor recreationists, including 4×4 enthusiasts, hunters, conservation advocates and others that realize that their greatest opportunity for effectiveness when addressing the issue of protecting the Icelandic highlands is with a unified voice. Also, polls show that majority of Icelanders supports making the central highlands a national park. Over 60% support it and only 12% are against it. Another important fact according to polls is that they show a majority for the idea among supporters of all political parties.


Holmsa river. Current status = endangered.
Holmsa river. Current status = endangered.

Domestic support for the highland park is crucial, but international support is no less important. Research has shown that 80% of tourists mention Icelandic nature as the number one reason for visiting the country and 50% mention that they come to Iceland specifically to experience the vast, untouched wilderness that characterizes the Icelandic central highlands. Also, according to another study, roughly 90% of tourists who have been to the highlands say that they would not like to see power plants, overhead power lines, reservoirs, built-up roads and hotels there.

Preserving the Icelandic central highlands is thus important for all future generations, not only those that will live in Iceland. And, like all other conservation efforts, it’s an issue that matters to everyone living on the Pale Blue Dot.
Those who want to show their support can sign a petition for a national park in the central highlands of Iceland.