The Icelandic government signed the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992. Part of the Icelandic nature that falls under its framework are the unique heritage domestic animal breed that came to the country with settlers more than a thousand years ago; the goat, the cows, the sheep, the leader sheep and the Icelandic horse.
Unique and sensitive strains
It is internationally recognized that the Icelandic domestic animal species that have lived on the island in isolation for centuries are unique and their contribution to genetic diversity in the world is invaluable. They have never been exposed to most of the diseases affecting domestic animals elsewhere and are therefore very sensitive. Only 15% of the 119 animal diseases monitored by the World Veterinary Organization (OIE) in 2016 have ever been found in Iceland. However, about 75% of these diseases are found on continental Europe.
In 2016, the aforementioned animal diseases broke out 5,595 times in Europe (outbreaks). One case was diagnosed in Iceland that year. Animal diseases are spread in various ways, but the import of raw meat is one of the factors that increase the risk. We Icelanders have reacted with an import ban and are in a group of island states such as New Zealand who do not take unnecessary risks regarding animal diseases. Both states have recognized that new diseases can have a very serious impact on isolated and sensitive animal populations.
The value for future generations
Carelessness can have an irreversible impact on nature, communities and the economy. The danger is real, but over the last hundred years, about one thousand animal populations have died, according to the United Nations Food Agency (FAO). Some due to diseases that occurred with the import of animals or animal products. An extinct animal breed will not be brought back to life. The extincion can not be reversed! Icelandic nature, cultural landscape and biodiversity are real values that should not be taken lightly or gambled with. Short-sightedness must not prevent us from delivering Iceland’s unique natural and genetic resources to future generations