Protection of large watersheds

Salome Hallfreðsdóttir
Unlike most other European countries, Iceland still has large unfragmented waterways, although much political pressure has been put on harnessing them for hydropower generation in recent years. Also, Iceland has an abundance of spring water and spring water fed rivers and lakes and possibly even the most waterfalls in the world, relatively speaking. 
In the Master Plan for Hydro and Geothermal Energy Resources in Iceland, many of these unfragmented waterways have been ranked as the most valuable in terms of landscape and wilderness, hence their conservation value is very high. These include: the glacial rivers in Skagafjörður fjord (the most famous river rafting rivers in Iceland), Skjálfandafjót river with the famous Goðafoss and Aldeyjarfoss waterfalls, Jökulsá á Fjöllum river which runs through the Vatnajökull national park with Dettifoss waterfall as a popular tourist destination, and Skaftá and Hólmsá rivers in the southeast of Iceland.
Landvernd has put special emphasis on protecting many of these watersheds from hydropower generation, both through seminars and review papers at various stages in the making of the current Master Plan. Many of these areas are now in waiting status, and Landvernd will continue fighting for the protection of them.

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