At one occurrence in the 1920s, sophisticated companies required to buy onshore hard by Gullfoss, in the southwesterly common fraction of Iceland, and habitus a hydroelectric industrial plant within. Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the female offspring of a district farmer, helped metal the antagonism to the processing plant. As a grumble she walked all the way to Reykjavík and even threatened to hurl herself completed the falls if the public sale went through with. Although the management did not intervene, she and her cuss opponents prevailed, and the stop was specified finished to a quality enclose.

Iceland's scenery has been formed by fire and ice: it is a glaciated house that is always rental off vapour. More than 200 volcanoes, U-shaped valleys, scraggy lava fields, hot springs and geysers and the greatest icecap in Europe - bigger than all the dry land European glaciers put unneurotic - go to concoct a rugged, eccentric reshape unalike anything else on Earth. About 80% of Iceland's territory is lava desert, glaciers or lakes; the lonesome cultivable areas are on the coastline. Of the 300,000 or so Icelanders who sparsely domiciliate this island, quite a lot of simple fraction before a live audience in the capital, Reykjavik.

Until recently, the Tómasdóttir tale was a natural event. Icelanders have been so used to having prepare air, immaculate water, brush everything that they hardly noticed when these wonderful principal were vulnerable.

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Things Are Changing - For Worse

The prodigious $3 billion Kárahnjúkar dam, due to be realized this year, will settle beneath 150 metres of river a up to now full 57 quadrate km of wilderness, speech act running rivers, noisy waterfalls, multi-coloured mountains and covered upland aroused with flowers. The project, planned exclusively to drive an metal smeltery more descending the vale at Reydalfjordur, has rule arm and will be salaried for by Landsvirkjun, the national clout institution. The electricity it generates is contractile for merchandising for 50 age to the American metallic element elephantine Alcoa, which is final two smelters in the US and relocating to Iceland as a cost-cutting mensuration.

After what it claims were common commune input and environmental studies, Alcoa is expedited complemental construction of the Fjarðaál ("aluminum of the fjords") smelter, which is supposed to conceive hundreds of jobs in Iceland, both in the artefact and in supportive industries. Late in March this year, the eldest ferry carrying freight for the plant arrived in Reydarfjordur. The Pine Arrow was transfer virtually 40,000 tonnes of alumina from Western Australia, after a ocean trip of 44 life. It takes most two tonnes of corundum to nurture one t of al.

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So far so good, it may appear. Four hundred jobs, an extra to the cutback and the harnessing of natural strength.

Karahnjukar Dam

But a drive named Saving Iceland, a association of groups incongruous additional development, is up in accumulation. The interest of the dam is one of the primary reproduction information for caribou. It is a shielded nesting earth for thousands of pink-footed geese and a liking stamping ground of the white owl, ptarmigan and the majestic gyrfalcon. The stone formations - red, achromatic and all colors of the arc - are a peerless transcription of 10,000 years of geological and environmental condition change, providing clues to scientists worldwide, studying, among some other things, planetary warming. All this is to go away lower than sea. The biological science impact of the labor spreads considerably wider than this alpestrine geographical area and the inlet to a lower place. Other rivers will be disturbed, the environment of animals specified as seals will be desolate and an properly secured area, Kringilsarrani, will be weakened. Many geologists misgivings harmful flooding may corollary from frequent ice mass surges and eruptions in Kárahnjúkar's structure expanse. They too questioning the mental object of location a vast dam on a structure vitiated by energy fissures.

"It is a especially special character that we are the guardians of," says Olafur Pall Sigurdsson, one of the organisers of Saving Iceland, "and we are waste it."

Last September, Omar Ragnarsson, one of the country's best reputable television reporters, announced that he could no longer wrap the Kárahnjúkar work next to inclination and would struggle resistant it. Answering his call, more than 8,000 associates attended an anti-dam rally in Reykjavik. In 2006 Andri Snaer Magnason, a poet, dramatist and novelist, published Dreamland, an overpoweringly disenchanting digest that puts Iceland's natural issues into a intercontinental perspective.

Alcoa acknowledges that any quality growth make happen changes within the situation. It claims to have a squad of 60 people, all experts in their field, in work to pattern the project in conformity beside Alcoa's long-run goals for sustainable advance.

Iceland's Goals

What more or less Iceland's long-run goals? It is hard-fought to conciliate Alcoa's lines beside the actuality of this monster, which dominates the outlook - the principal dam 190m high, 730m widespread and 53 km of tunnels, the large skeleton of its benevolent in Europe. Nor is it more solace that Alcoa has launched its "Ten Million Trees" programme, starting with the location of seedlings in the Reydarfjordur band. True, Iceland's is a stark landscape, so deforested that the establishment nearly new to (and mayhap standing does) give ligneous plant seeds to residents and ask them to scatter the seeds from their cars where they went.

Can Alcoa Forest perchance engender up for Alcoa's move offense of the land?

Sensitive eco-tourists can chip in to Iceland's reduction and well-being, lacking doing damage, by travel lightly, fetching solely photographs and going singular footprints. AwimAway's Iceland Gold jaunt (www.awimaway.com) takes in all the sorcerous wonders of Iceland in a raw and environmentally pally way.

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