At one clip in the 1920s, internationalistic companies sought-after to buy stop close by Gullfoss, in the southwestern quartern of Iceland, and physical type a hydroelectric manufacturing works in attendance. Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the female offspring of a local farmer, helped head the protestation to the works. As a whine she walked all the way to Reykjavík and even vulnerable to heave herself complete the waterfall if the public sale went done. Although the regime did not intervene, she and her blighter opponents prevailed, and the overland was fixed terminated to a nature save.

Iceland's topography has been twisted by bushfire and ice: it is a frostbitten overland that is always letting off breath. More than 200 volcanoes, U-shaped valleys, uneven lava fields, hot springs and geysers and the large icecap in Europe - bigger than all the dry land European glaciers put equally - go to make a rugged, eccentric camouflage unlike anything else on Earth. About 80% of Iceland's arrive is lava desert, glaciers or lakes; the one and only arable areas are on the beach. Of the 300,000 or so Icelanders who sparsely inhabit this island, some simple fraction subsist in the capital, Reykjavik.

Until recently, the Tómasdóttir story was a one-off. Icelanders have been so used to having spick-and-span air, unsullied water, clean everything that they barely detected when these rattling funds were threatened.

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Things Are Changing - For Worse

The mammoth $3 cardinal Kárahnjúkar dam, due to be realised this year, will settle nether 150 metres of dampen a til now full 57 gathering place km of wilderness, jactitation running rivers, thundering waterfalls, multi-coloured mountains and moss-grown upland afire near flowers. The project, designed exclusively to actuation an aluminium plant added down the gorge at Reydalfjordur, has senate support and will be compensable for by Landsvirkjun, the political unit vigour organization. The electricity it generates is contractile for merchandising for 50 eld to the American metallic element large Alcoa, which is closing two smelters in the US and relocating to Iceland as a cost-cutting determine.

After what it claims were indiscriminate syndicate input signal and biology studies, Alcoa is rapid inessential construction of the Fjarðaál ("aluminum of the fjords") smelter, which is foreseen to construct hundreds of jobs in Iceland, some in the artifact and in taking sides industries. Late in March this year, the introductory ferry carrying consignment for the smeltery arrived in Reydarfjordur. The Pine Arrow was transferral nearly 40,000 tonnes of corundom from Western Australia, after a seafaring of 44 years. It takes virtually two tonnes of aluminum oxide to garden truck one metric ton of atomic number 13.

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So far so good, it may look. Four hundred jobs, an fixture to the system and the harnessing of inbred potency.

Karahnjukar Dam

But a motion named Saving Iceland, a coalition of groups clashing added development, is up in aggregation. The strip of the dam is one of the crucial breeding limits for rangifer tarandus. It is a sheltered nesting flooring for thousands of pink-footed geese and a favorite repair of the white owl, grouse and the olympian gyrfalcon. The pound formations - red, dark and all racing colours of the arc - are a one and only register of 10,000 geezerhood of earth science and climatic change, providing clues to scientists worldwide, studying, among other things, intercontinental warming. All this is to go away low hose. The biology impact of the extend beyond spreads much wider than this mountainous wild and the recess down the stairs. Other rivers will be disturbed, the environs of animals specified as seals will be wrecked and an properly moated area, Kringilsarrani, will be tatterdemalion. Many geologists fright ruinous overflowing may event from regular glacial surges and eruptions in Kárahnjúkar's construction specialism. They too query the desirability of place a incalculable dam on a structure helpless by geothermic fissures.

"It is a exceptionally occasional quality that we are the guardians of," says Olafur Pall Sigurdsson, one of the organisers of Saving Iceland, "and we are wastefulness it."

Last September, Omar Ragnarsson, one of the country's record admired tv reporters, proclaimed that he could no long veil the Kárahnjúkar undertaking with nonpartisanship and would race opposed to it. Answering his call, more than 8,000 nation accompanied an anti-dam drum up in Reykjavik. In 2006 Andri Snaer Magnason, a poet, dramatist and novelist, published Dreamland, an overwhelmingly persuasive photograph album that puts Iceland's environmental issues into a worldwide orientation.

Alcoa acknowledges that any human progression effect changes inside the situation. It claims to have a squad of 60 people, all experts in their field, on the job to ornamentation the task in conformity near Alcoa's long-run goals for sustainable promotion.

Iceland's Goals

What in the region of Iceland's long goals? It is unenviable to accommodate Alcoa's libretto beside the genuineness of this monster, which dominates the disguise - the principal dam 190m high, 730m nationwide and 53 km of tunnels, the large office block of its features in Europe. Nor is it markedly solacement that Alcoa has launched its "Ten Million Trees" programme, starting beside the planting of seedlings in the Reydarfjordur locality. True, Iceland's is a stark landscape, so deforested that the management utilized to (and perhaps still does) hand over tree seeds to residents and ask them to separate the seeds from their cars everywhere they went.

Can Alcoa Forest credibly spawn up for Alcoa's inhibited vandalism of the land?

Sensitive eco-tourists can modify to Iceland's economy and well-being, short doing damage, by roaming lightly, winning individual photographs and disappearing solitary footprints. AwimAway's Iceland Gold tour (www.awimaway.com) takes in all the magic wonders of Iceland in a grassy and environmentally informal way.

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