June 21, 2011
Alcoa Fjardál grants seven hundred thousand dollars to Friends of Vatnajökull Park

Friends of Vatnajökull Park accepted today a grant of 700,000 dollars from Alcoa Fjardaál at a formal ceremony in Snaefell Information Centre at Skriduklaustur Cultural House in East Iceland. Fjardaál had earlier presented the association with two grants to the amount of 1.26 million dollars, so the total amount of grants for the past three years is now almost two million dollars. The company intends to support Friends of Vatnajökull Park further over the next few years. The grant will be utilized for various projects related to information, education and research within and around Vatnajökull National Park.

One of the supported projects involves the production and setup of tall cairns which mark the entrance to the national park. Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Minister for the Environment, unveiled the first cairns today at the park entrance on Fljótsdalur Moor. Similar cairns will be set up elsewhere by the entrances to the park. After the unveiling of the cairns on the moor, Tómas Már Sigurdsson, Director of Alcoa Iceland, presented Bjarni Daníelsson, Vice Chairman of the Board of Friends of Vatnajökull Park, with the grant in Snaefell Information Center, which is a new Tourist Information Center for Vatnajökull National Park.

When Tómas Már presented the grant, he said that it was clear that an international company like Alcoa had considerable impact on the Icelandic environment and community. The company’s policy is to conduct its operations in a sustainable manner and it was clear from the very beginning that Alcoa was interested in supporting the development of a national park north of Vatnajökull glacier. A particular Memorandum of Understanding was signed on that issue in 2002, the year that Alcoa started to explore the feasability of building a smelter in Reydarfjördur. Tómas said it was very valuable for thhe company to actively participate in the establishment of Vatnajökull National Park, which is the largest national park in Europe. The park will in years to come attract innumerable national and international tourists.

In addition to Tómas, the Minister for the Environment, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Paula Davis, the Director of the Alcoa Foundation and Bjarni Daníelsson Vice Chairman of the Board of Friends of Vatnajökull Park addressed the guests.

Vatnajökull National Park covers over 13 thousand square kilometers of land, reaching from the south coast of Iceland all the way north to Öxarfjord. Jökulsár Canyon, Lakagígar and Skaftafell are within the park, as well as many other national treasures. Representatives of all the counties adjacent to the park took part in the establishment of the Friends of Vatnajökull National Park. The association’s aim is to raise funds to support research, information sources and education on the park in order to enhance the interplay between the nearby communities and the national park.

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Cairn unveiled

Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Minister for the Environment, formally unveils one of the two cairns which now mark the Snaefell entrance into the park.

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Friends of the Park

Kristveig Sigurdardóttir, Chairman of the Board of Vatnajökull National Park, and Bjarni Daníelsson, Vice Chairman of the Board of the Friends of Vatnajökull, show symbolically how much they care for the park.

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Presentation of the Grant

Bjarni Daníelsson, Vice Chairman of the Board of Friends of Vatnajokull Park, formally accepts the grant from Tómas Már Sigurdsson, Director of Alcoa in Iceland.