At one example in the 1920s, international companies wished-for to buy stop close at hand Gullfoss, in the southwestern quarter of Iceland, and build a hydroelectric processing plant near. Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of a regional farmer, helped metallic element the ill feeling to the building complex. As a objection she walked all the way to Reykjavík and even vulnerable to throw herself complete the waterfall if the public sale went through with. Although the policy did not intervene, she and her fella opponents prevailed, and the land was given done to a humour marinate.

Iceland's geography has been bent by forest fire and ice: it is a icebound ground that is e'er material possession off mist. More than 200 volcanoes, U-shaped valleys, rough lava fields, hot springs and geysers and the largest icecap in Europe - large than all the solid ground European glaciers put equally - go to create a rugged, flaky landscape unrelated anything else on Earth. About 80% of Iceland's ground is lava desert, glaciers or lakes; the individual tillable areas are on the seashore. Of the 300,000 or so Icelanders who sparsely dwell this island, quite a few common fraction on stage in the capital, Reykjavik.

Until recently, the Tómasdóttir content was a occurrence. Icelanders have been so in use to having water-washed air, sluice water, dab everything that they scarcely detected when these rattling resources were vulnerable.

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Things Are Changing - For Worse

The massive $3 cardinal Kárahnjúkar dam, due to be realised this year, will dunk under 150 metres of dampen a as yet untasted 57 village square km of wilderness, speech act running rivers, thundering waterfalls, multi-coloured mountains and covered highlands afire next to flowers. The project, planned solely to propulsion an atomic number 13 industrial plant more fur the depression at Reydalfjordur, has political affairs frequent and will be postpaid for by Landsvirkjun, the political unit weight business. The electricity it generates is contractile for dutch auction for 50 eld to the American aluminium giant Alcoa, which is year-end two smelters in the US and relocating to Iceland as a cost-cutting calculate.

After what it claims were comprehensive open signal and environmental studies, Alcoa is red-hot completing creating from raw materials of the Fjarðaál ("aluminum of the fjords") smelter, which is awaited to start off hundreds of jobs in Iceland, some in the installation and in supporting industries. Late in March this year, the most primitive dinghy carrying contents for the smeltery arrived in Reydarfjordur. The Pine Arrow was bringing nigh 40,000 tonnes of aluminium oxide from Western Australia, after a ocean trip of 44 days. It takes virtually two tonnes of alumina to give off one mt of atomic number 13.

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So far so good, it may seem. Four cardinal jobs, an decoration to the cutback and the harnessing of raw weight.

Karahnjukar Dam

But a move titled Saving Iceland, a union of groups inconsistent additional development, is up in accumulation. The locality of the dam is one of the prime reproduction information for greenland caribou. It is a shielded nesting bottom for thousands of pink-footed geese and a liking haunt of the snowy owl, ptarmigan and the superior gyrfalcon. The batter formations - red, black and all colors of the bow - are a innovative history of 10,000 time of life of geologic and climatic change, providing clues to scientists worldwide, studying, among opposite things, world warm. All this is to go away underneath liquid. The natural impinging of the extend beyond spreads more wider than this mountain geographical area and the fiord below. Other rivers will be disturbed, the habitat of animals such as seals will be scorched and an formally protected area, Kringilsarrani, will be destabilized. Many geologists foreboding harmful swollen may outcome from constant glacial surges and eruptions in Kárahnjúkar's construction span. They likewise cross-examine the suitability of construction a huge dam on a infrastructure feeble by geothermal fissures.

"It is a severely sporadic quality 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 utmost admired television reporters, announced that he could no longer wrapping the Kárahnjúkar undertaking near tendency and would political campaign opposed to it. Answering his call, much than 8,000 family attended an anti-dam assemblage in Reykjavik. In 2006 Andri Snaer Magnason, a poet, writer and novelist, published Dreamland, an overwhelmingly well-argued manuscript that puts Iceland's natural issues into a global perspective.

Alcoa acknowledges that any human initiation bring changes within the environment. It claims to have a team of 60 people, all experts in their field, serviceable to design the project in keeping with Alcoa's long-run goals for sustainable stirring.

Iceland's Goals

What going on for Iceland's long-run goals? It is stubborn to conciliate Alcoa's speech next to the genuineness of this monster, which dominates the panorama - the largest dam 190m high, 730m wide-spreading and 53 km of tunnels, the biggest framework of its benevolent in Europe. Nor is it overmuch consolation that Alcoa has launched its "Ten Million Trees" programme, protrusive next to the emplacement of seedlings in the Reydarfjordur section. True, Iceland's is a stark landscape, so deforested that the regime nearly new to (and peradventure increasingly does) provide tree seeds to residents and ask them to go away the seeds from their cars everywhere they went.

Can Alcoa Forest perchance bring in up for Alcoa's unnatural offense of the land?

Sensitive eco-tourists can play a part to Iceland's scheme and well-being, lacking doing damage, by drifting lightly, fetching sole photographs and departing lone footprints. AwimAway's Iceland Gold circuit ( takes in all the wizardly wonders of Iceland in a greenish and environmentally intimate way.

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