Iceland allows elves a place at discussion table regarding land use

The Huldufolk must be consulted at least as a cultural tradition in Iceland.

Iceland’s hidden elves delay road projects.

Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project building a direct route from to the tip of the Alftanes peninsula, where the president has a home, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer. They fear disturbing elf habitat and claim the area is particularly important because it contains an elf church.

The project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on a case brought by a group known as Friends of Lava, who cite both the environmental and the cultural impact — including the impact on elves — of the road project. The group has regularly brought hundreds of people out to block the bulldozers.

Icelandic people respect nature (it is the maker and destroyer of their land which is located on the Mid-Atlantic rift zone and was formed from volcanic eruptions that continue today). So, the elves have attained an important reputation with regards to respect for nature. The dispute remains if the people believe in actual beings or if it’s simply an important cultural touchstone. See this 2005 piece from New York Times that addresses the roads-elves issue.

Elves are important for tourism here as well. The location is a unique and revered geologic structure (that is associated with elves) and in essence, this is a roundabout way of preserving it, invoking more than just aesthetics. Odd, but I can understand their agenda. They perceive it as sacred. As a geologist, the magical characteristics attached to the rocks make perfect sense to me – even though it involves talking to invisble tiny entities. Yeah, that’s pushing it a bit.

Bike path won’t disturb elf home in Iceland. Whew! What a relief. | Doubtful News.

Icelandic elf cave

Icelandic elf cave made from lava flow.

  4 comments for “Iceland allows elves a place at discussion table regarding land use

  1. December 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Legolas. Be afraid, be very afraid.

  2. BobM
    December 22, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    We get the same sort of thing in my country only it’s Taniwha. It causes outright knicker twisting hatred amongst those who think that it’s getting in the way of development. I can’t see why its not just regarded as a rather nice example of quaint folk customs, as it seems to be in England. There are often other, unspoken reasons for the objection in the background.

  3. Anthony
    December 23, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    I love these sorts of stories. If the site they are claiming is “troll” or “fairy” habitat is also geologically or ecologically noteworthy, then it’s a good enough reason for me to use it. Sometimes a piece of natural beauty is worth the extra effort to preserve it from roads or construction projects.

  4. Warren
    December 23, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    The Icelandic respect for nature was hard earned: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4737743.stm

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