Björk calls for global action to prevent destruction of Iceland’s Highlands
“We ask for the world to support us.”
Björk and renowned writer and environmentalist Andri Snær Magnason are hosting a press conference at Iceland Airwaves, Reykjavik, on behalf of Gætum Garðsins (“Protect the Park”) highlighting the need for urgent action to protect Iceland’s Highlands from environmental destruction.
Launched in March of last year, Gætum Garðsins is a coalition aiming to raise awareness for the conservation of Iceland’s Highlands, which forms the largest area of untouched wilderness in Europe.
The Highlands are a big draw for nature lovers all over the world, with data from the Icelandic Tourist Board showing that around 80% of foreign visitors come to Iceland primarily to experience the country’s wilderness, and about half come specifically for the central highlands. Tourism is now Iceland’s largest revenue-generating sector.
The area, which currently only has limited protection, is currently under threat of extensive development, as outlined by the Icelandic government’s Master Plan for conservation of nature and utilisation of energy. Specifically, the Government has plans to pave roads, erect power lines and build power plants right through the center of Iceland, which would drastically alter the landscape and slice the highlands in half.
As part of the conference, Bjork has released this video message asking “the world to support us against our Government”
To prevent irreversible damage to the Highlands, Gætum Garðsins is proposing that a national park be created, an idea that the majority of Icelanders support, according to a Gallup poll.
The press conference comes one week after UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Iceland, when a new UK-Iceland Energy Task Force was announced to assess the possibility of laying the world’s longest sub-sea power cable (746 miles) to provide the UK with “long-term, renewable” energy.
Commenting on this plan in advance of the press conference, Andri Snær Magnason said:
“The concept of Iceland’s infinite energy of Iceland is on par with other myths from Iceland like elves and trolls. You cannot simply plug into a volcano. Iceland has already harnessed its nature for energy production close to the maximum and the only way this proposal could work would be to build more power plants. While energy for the cable does not seem available, about five factories are being discussed or planned – making it almost impossible to imagine where all the energy can come from without damaging something incredibly wild and fragile.”
“Some of the plans would bring grave environmental consequences – destroying nesting places of pink-footed geese and habitat for the great north atlantic salmon, as well as some of the greatest waterfalls in the wilderness of Iceland or simply the rare tranquility of untouched wilderness.”
Last year Gætum Garðsins hosted a special benefit event, including a special screening of the film ‘Noah’ and a concert with Björk, Patti Smith, Of Monsters and Men, Lykke Li and others – raising over 30 million ISK for the cause.
The organisation will continue to work toward its goal of creating a national park and at once debunk the myth that Iceland is a source of endless energy that should be harnessed at the cost of the country’s true national treasure—its nature.