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Old Thursday 16th January 2003, 18:37   #1
peter hayes

 
Posts: n/a
Geese Under Threat

Thought this might be of interest.

Peter



HSA4644 4 HHH 448 PA
1 ENVIRONMENT Geese

GEESE `THREATENED BY ICELAND POWER SCHEMES'

By Amanda Brown, Environment Correspondent, PA News

British wildlife is being put at risk by the Icelandic government's
decision
to allow two hydro-electric schemes, wildlife campaigners claimed
today.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said the schemes will
affect
thousands of pairs of nesting pink-footed geese.

Iceland has almost 90% of the global population of this small goose
and almost
all of these birds winter in the UK, mainly in the coastal areas of
East Anglia,
and in Lancashire and eastern and south-western Scotland.

Nicola Crockford, of the RSPB said We estimate that as many as one
in seven
of the pink-footed geese visiting the UK in winter could be affected
or
displaced by these hydro-electric schemes.

The two sites are globally recognised for their importance for
birds and
other wildlife, but Iceland seems determined to renege on its
international
conservation commitments and damage and destroy substantial portions of
these
sites.

Work has already begun on the Karahnjukar hydroelectric scheme, in
Iceland's
central highlands.

Once completed the scheme will damage the breeding, feeding and
moulting areas
for 3,000 pairs of pink-footed geese representing an eighth of the
birds
visiting the UK in winter.

It will flood up to 56 square kilometres of wilderness, and was
initially
rejected by the Icelandic planning agency, following an environmental
impact
assessment which showed unacceptable levels of damage.

However, the agency's decision was reversed by the Environment
Minister, Siv
Fridleifsdottir.

A second proposed dam at Thjorsarver will, if built, stand 578
metres high and
will destroy a further 42 square kilometres of habitat used by an
estimated 500
to 800 pairs of pink-footed geese.

The area is thought to be the most wildlife rich site in central
Iceland. Both
schemes will be created to provide power for proposed North
American-owned
aluminium smelting plants based in Iceland.

Johann Oli Hilmarsson, of the Icelandic Society for the Protection
of Birds
said: Our society has campaigned vigorously to persuade the Icelandic
government to refuse permission for these dams to be built and is
asking for our
government to protect the Karahnjukar and Thjorsarver areas for future
generations.

If these projects go ahead it will be a loss not only to Iceland
but also to
the world.

The appearance of thousands of pink-footed geese every winter
provides the UK
with one of the greatest wildlife spectacles.

Visiting birdwatchers making a pilgrimage to see the birds are
fuelling a much
welcomed tourism boost for local communities.
 
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