Thursday, August 1, 2013

Iceland’s Wetlands – A treasure that needs protection

Photo By: Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson
Photo By: Guðmundur Páll Ólafsson
We welcomed Ragga Sigurðardóttir at the Embassy where she gave us a briefing on the efforts of a group of concerned Icelanders to establish the Auðlind Nature Fund to support wetland reclamation and protection. Ragga is a Fubright Alumna with a PhD in Environmental Science from Yale University. She briefed us about the environmental benefits of wetlands, which include carbon sequestration, flood control, erosion control, water purification, sediment and nutrient retention, and acting as reservoirs of biodiversity. More importantly she told us that 40% of the CO2 emissions in Iceland are caused by wetland drainage, which is also a cause of water pollution and the severe alteration of ecosystems. The good news is that wetland reclamation and protection is supported by the Icelandic government and that the public is becoming increasingly aware of the issues associated with wetlands. Iceland’s environmental agenda is very similar to that of the United States as we share many of the same challenges. We are glad to see the graduate of a fine U.S. university working to address these challenges in Iceland.
Ragga (left) discussing Iceland's wetlands with Amb. Arreaga (right)