Bank Subsidiary to Build Wellness Community in Capital Area

The capital-area municipality of Garðabær has signed a contract with Arnarland ehf, a subsidiary of Arion Bank, to build a new wellness community, Fréttablaðið reports. The community will “emphasize quality of life, nature, and health-promoting services” and be open to residents who are 50 years and older.

Per its website, Arnarland be designed with the United Nation’s sustainable development goals in mind and feature an on-site center for companies that “specialize in healthcare services, development, and innovation.” The pharmaceutical and medical supply concern Ósar, as well as its subsidiaries Icepharma and Parlogis, will be building their future headquarters within the neighborhood. “The companies and the residences will benefit from one another’s presence and increase the health-related services that are available to nearby communities,” remarked Parlogis CEO Hálfdan Gunnarsson.

Arnarland, which will be approximately 10 ha [24 acres] in size, will be built on a plot of land that has been owned by Landey, an Arion Bank subsidiary, since 2016. Landey recently changed its name to Arnarland ehf. Arion bank holds a 51% share in the neighborhood. The real estate company Fasteignafélagið Akurey, holds the other 49%. The real estate company is owned by father and son Kristján Jóhannsson and Jóhann Ingi Kristjánsson, who together, own a combined majority, or 64%, in Icepharma and Parlogis.

Arnarland ehf CEO Þorgerður Anna Einarsdóttir says the community will fill a real niche in the capital-area housing market.

“In our opinion, there’s a real shortage of high quality and spacious apartments for people who want to downsize when their chicks leave the nest. This neighborhood will place an emphasis on allowing residents to cultivate body and soul in a beautiful and nourishing environment.”

New Path Paved Through 85-Year-Old Forest

A team of some of Iceland’s most experienced loggers is in the process of cutting a path through Vaðlaskógur, an 85-year-old forest that stands across from Akureyri, on the other side of the Eyjafjörður fjord in Northeast Iceland. RÚV reports that the felling will make way for a a 2 km [1.2 mi] walking and cycling path, as well make way for hot water pipes from the Vaðlaheiði tunnel to run water to a new bathing area in the forest. An estimated 130 tons of timber will be cut down in the process.

“You can read the history of Icelandic forestry here,” says Ingólfur Jóhannsson, managing director of the Eyjafjörður Forestry Association who is overseeing the project. “People were just experimenting in 1936, when planting started here—no one knew what [species] would thrive in the country.” Ingólfur says that at the time, pretty much anything and everything was planted in the area. “…[S]ome [trees] lived and some died, and that was the foundation for our forestry work today.”

Screenshot, Vísir

Today, several species of spruce grow in Vaðlaskógur, as do beach pines, pitch pines, mountain pines, Alpine firs, rowans, and multiple willow species. All told, Ingólfur estimates that there are some thirty species of trees growing in the forest.

The diversity of species makes this a complicated process for the loggers, who must be selective and ensure that they aren’t felling just any tree. The eleven-person team was assembled from experienced professionals hailing from Reykjavík, Skagafjörður, Akureyri, and Egilsstaðir and will spend about two weeks completing the project. The resulting timber will then be used for building materials and firewood.

Although a number of trees will need to be cleared for the project, Ingólfur spoke highly of the planned outdoor area, which will be easily accessible to visitors. “Paths are also valuable in forests.”

Heiðmörk Forest Fire Burns Two Square Kilometres

heiðmörk fire 4 may 2021

A brush fire has burned two square kilometres of Heiðmörk forest in the Reykjavík capital area, RÚV reports. The fire broke out between three and four yesterday afternoon and took firefighters nearly twelve hours to put out. The fire was difficult for fire crews to access as it was far from roads.

Sævar Hreiðarsson, a forest warden in Heiðmörk, stated that wardens had been through the area just before the fire broke out. “It’s just sad that our staff didn’t see this. They were there just half an hour, an hour before this happened,” he stated.

The planting of Heiðmörk began in the early 1950s and the forest celebrated its 70th anniversary last year. The area where the fire took place was planted around 20 years ago. Heiðmörk is a popular recreational area for residents of the capital area. “And unfortunately some are using disposable barbecues or are smoking and not being careful,” Sævar told reporters. “Now everything is very dry and ignites easily, there’s a lot of food for the fire now.”

The area has been monitored specifically due to the risk of forest fire in recent years. “But it’s such a big area and it’s difficult for us to monitor, and this happens very suddenly. We have managed to stop fires like this as they break out. The fire crews managed to help us with something two years ago. There were small fires then but thankfully not like this just now.”

Forest Service Recommends Hugging Trees While You Can’t Hug Others

The Icelandic Forestry Service is encouraging people to hug trees while social distancing measures prevent them from hugging other people, RÚV reports. Forest rangers in the Hallormsstaður National Forest in East Iceland have been diligently clearing snow-covered paths to ensure that locals can enjoy the great outdoors without coming in too close a contact with other guests, but can also get up close and personal with their forest friends.

“When you hug [a tree], you feel it first in your toes and then up your legs and into your chest and then up into your head,” enthuses forest ranger Þór Þorfinnsson. “It’s such a wonderful feeling of relaxation and then you’re ready for a new day and new challenges.”

“Viktor and a poplar” via skogur.is

In a time when close contact and embracing is discouraged for risk of COVID-19 infection, trees can offer a sense of comfort, says Þór, although he urges visitors to the national forest to take precautions not to all hug the same tree. He recommends that people walk deeper into the forest, rather than stopping at the first tree they encounter. “There are plenty of trees…it doesn’t have to be big and stout, it can be any size.”

People should take their time, Þór says, to reap the full benefits of their tree-hugging. “Five minutes is really good, if you can give yourself five minutes of your day to hug [a tree], that’s definitely enough,” he says. “You can also do it many times a day – that wouldn’t hurt. But once a day will definitely do the trick, even for just a few days.”

via skogur.is

Rangers have marked out intervals of two metres within the forest so that visitors are able to enjoy nature without fear of getting too close to one another. “It’s recommended that people get outdoors during this horrible time,” says Bergrún Anna Þórsteinsdóttir, an assistant forest ranger at Hallormsstaður. “Why not enjoy the forest and hug a tree and get some energy from this place?”

When you find the right tree, Þór has further recommendations for getting the most out of your embrace. “It’s also really nice to close your eyes while you’re hugging a tree,” he says. “I lean my cheek up against the trunk and feel the warmth and the currents flowing from the tree and into me. You can really feel it.”

Snæfellsjökull National Park to Be Expanded by 9%

Snæfellsjökull National Park

The Environment Agency of Iceland and the municipality of Snæfellsbær have published a plan for the expansion of Snæfellsjökull National Park in West Iceland. The proposed addition would increase the park’s land area by 9% to 182 square kilometres (70 square miles). “The extension creates even more opportunities for outdoor recreation in the area, not least for locals,” a government notice reads.

Diverse nature and historical artefacts

Snæfellsjökull National Park is located at the tip of the Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland. It was established in 2001 as the first national park in the country located along the coastline. It is the only national park in Iceland that contains fishing artefacts from previous centuries. Of course, the park includes natural attractions as well, such as black and white sand beaches, bird cliffs, lava fields, and the glacier-topped Snæfellsjökull stratovolcano that towers over the park.

The proposed addition is located north of Snæfellsjökull and east of the park’s current borders.

Conservation also has economic benefits

According to Finnish researcher Jukka Siltanen’s findings, Snæfellsjökull National Park is an investment that gives fantastic returns. Siltanen found that the economic impact to cost ratio of the park is 45:1, meaning that the money spent on the park is returned 45-fold into the Icelandic economy.

Interested parties can send in comments about the proposal until June 10 by email to [email protected] or by post to Umhverfisstofnun, Suðurlandsbraut 24, 108 Reykjavík.