The board of the Hunters’ Association of Iceland says Minister for the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir broke her promise on consulting with them before accepting the preservation and management plan for the Vatnajökull National Park without changes on Monday.
Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell is among the natural wonders that can be seen in Vatnajökull National Park. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
The Hunters’ Association released a statement on Monday evening, pointing out that the association wasn’t invited to participate in the planning process even though it has the right to do so according to law, ruv.is reports.
Hunters are dissatisfied with the limitation of hunting within the national park and travelers have objected to the closure of jeep tracks, holding a symbolic burial ceremony for travel freedom last autumn.
According to Stöd 2, not only the access of hunters and travelers on SUVs has been significantly limited in the national park, but also that of horseback riders. Travelers say all their suggestions were ignored in the planning process.
Sveinbjörn Halldórsson, chairman of the travel club 4×4 and board member of the organization Ferdafrelsi (“Travel Freedom”), told Stöd 2 that they are planning an administrational complaint and will take their case as far as they have to, even to the European Court of Human Rights.
Vatnajökull National Park is the largest national park in Europe, covering 13 percent of Iceland’s landmass. It includes Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier, and the area surrounding it, stretching from the southeastern coastline northwards along the Jökulsá river to the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon.
The preservation and management plan includes nature preservation, outdoor recreation and regional development within the park and is valid for ten years.
“It is an ambitious and extensive plan which I am proud to sign […] and I hope it will become a good tool for the national park’s management,” the minister commented to RÚV.
Svavarsdóttir concluded that laws were complied with when the plan was made but has asked the park’s management to appoint a task force to discuss driving within its limits.
“To ensure transportation within a large national park is of course a collaborative project on which there are many different viewpoints and it is clear that not everyone will have their utmost wishes fulfilled but I hope a conclusion that people can agree on can be reached,” she said.
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