Surtsey: New World Heritage Site

Published July 10, 2008

Surtsey, the volcanic island off the
southern coast of Iceland was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List
at World Heritage Committee meeting in Quebec City on July 7th.
A total of 27 new sites were inscribed on the WHL including the Preah
Vihear Temple in Cambodia and Fujian Tulou in China.

Surtsey is a fairly new island
approximately 32 km from the south coast of Iceland formed by
volcanic eruptions that took place from 1963 to 1967. It is
considered all the more intriguing for having been protected since
its “birth”, providing the world with a pristine natural
laboratory. Free from human interference, Surtsey has been used to
study and produce unique long-term information on the colonisation
process of new land by plant and animal life. Since they began
studying the island in 1964, scientists have observed the arrival of
seeds carried by ocean currents, the appearance of moulds, bacteria
and fungi, followed in 1965 by the first vascular plant.

Iceland now has to sites on the World
Heritage List, Surtsey and Þingvellir National Park, site of the
ancient assembly of the Althing which was inscribed in 2008.



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