Making the Central Highlands a National park

The central highland is one of Iceland’s greatest treasures containing volcanoes, glaciers, voluminous rivers and waterfalls. Such vast, unpopulated areas where nature alone rules, are hard to come by these days. We Icelanders are in a rare position to stand guard of this treasure, before it’s lost.

We interviewed the assistant of the Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources and former project manager of the Hálendið project.

People often get worried about access when there is talk about a national park. The public’s right to enjoy the nature and recreational activities while gaining informative instructions about nature and wildlife will be guaranteed. One of the fundamental bases of a Highland National park will be an understanding of the necessity for all visitors to respect the central highland and treat it in a responsible and suitable manner.

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Making the Central Highland a national park will provide a much better protection of nature and maintaining it. Although it’s vital that nature conversion groups, tourist companies and local authorities all have to play an active part in the administration of the national park.

We spoke with Steinar Kaldal, assistant of the Minister of environmental and Naturla resources, and former project manager of the Hálendið project and asked him about his favourite places on the highland and the best way to inform tourists on how to preserve the highlands. He also told us a story about the effect that the Icelandic nature has on tourists.

“There are so many beautiful places on the central highland, for example just driving up Sprengisandssveg, there is the amazing Kistufell and there you truly are in the center of the highlands. 360 degree view over the highlands. You see Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull.”

“The Highland project doesn’t focus on tourists. The main goal is to protect nature.”

“I remember one time when I brought a man from Japan up to the center highlands, he was getting more agitated as we got higher. Then at one point he told us to stop the car instantly, we thought he was going to puke or something, but he just started to running around. The nature overwhelmed him, he was used to being in big cities and having a lot of people around him all the time. He had never seen anything as vast and unpopulated in his life.”

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