Reykhólahreppur has been waiting for a new road for decades, as the current gravel roads are both worn and time-consuming. So when a new route was proposed by the Road Administration, the municipality readily approved it.
While on the surface this seems to be good news, many locals have spoken out that the media coverage on the issue has been deceptive to the environmental destruction the route would cause.
The proposed route would be devastating to Teigsskógur, one of Iceland’s oldest forests, which was first mentioned in Gísla’s Saga. The forest is also currently one of the largest in Iceland, approximately amounting to a total of 80 football fields.
Experts have warned of the irreversible consequences the route would cause to the area’s ecosystem, which is not only rich in flora such as pines, larch, willow, capelin, and pine trees, but also is the home of endangered bird species such as the Osprey and Falcon. The Bird Protection Board has encouraged the government to take all the precautions and look at more possibilities that wouldn’t take such extreme risks.
This perceived prioritisation of financial costs over the ecological ones has been a major criticism from conservationists who have frequently referenced The Nature Conservation Act which states, “natural phenomena may not be disturbed unless necessary.”
A campaign called Protecting Teigsskógur has been launched by Valgerður Árnadóttir and Karl Fannar Sævarsson. Valgerður, who was 5th place on the Pirate list of candidates for the last municipal elections, is a member of the Pirate Executive Council, and the Director of the Vegetarian Association in Iceland. In an interview with Fréttablaðið, she says:
“We humans do not respect nature and animals despite all the talk of climate change, pollution, disasters, and endangered species in Iceland.” She later added, “If this forest is destroyed it will be a perpetual shame on [the Road Administration] and all of us. ”
A group has been established on Facebook for the protection of Teigsskógur where you can join their efforts and follow the progression of the issue.
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