Island Vulnerability explores the challenges which isolated geographies face when dealing with risk and disasters by examining the processes which create, maintain, and could be used to reduce their vulnerability. This page provides information on vulnerability issues in the Faroe Islands:
Hungry puffin after a tough day on Mykineshólmur.
Introduction to Vulnerability and Disaster Management in the Faroes
Funded by the U.K.'s National Trust as an Arkell Fellow, I travelled to the Faroe Islands from 7 July 2003 to 24 July 2003 to investigate sustainability and vulnerability issues for small island heritage. The material here is a snapshot of my findings. I can claim no expertise, as evidenced by the gaps and vague statements. I am interested in learning much more about the Faroes, particularly in the context of Island Vulnerability and I have plenty yet to learn. Therefore, please contact me with feedback and suggestions, including omissions or errors. The views here are my own and reflect those of neither the National Trust nor the Faroese who kindly provided me with information, resources, and ideas and whose hospitality made me feel welcome in a spectacular country where I would wish to spend much more time.
The Faroe Islands are a self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark with a strong impetus towards independence. Approximately 46,000 people and 80,000 sheep share an area of 1,399 km2 over 18 main islands along with several smaller islets. Seventeen of the islands are currently inhabited, but Koltur and Stóra Dímun have only one family each. The main settlements are the capital Tórshavn, population 12,000, and Klaksvík, population 5,000. When an underwater tunnel linking Klaksvík with the road to Tórshavn is completed in a few years (the current plan is to open this tunnel in 2006), six of the islands will be linked by tunnels, bridges, or causeways. The only international airport in the Faroes, on Vágar, was linked to the Tórshavn road by an underwater tunnel which opened in December 2002. Otherwise, the inhabited islands can be reached by boat or helicopter.
The Faroes were mainly settled about 1,100 years ago by Norwegian Vikings who took over from Celtic settlers, mostly Irish monks, who had arrived approximately three centuries earlier. The population’s first language is Faroese, a Scandinavian language with strong resemblance to Old Norse, but children learn Danish and English in school. Emigration, particularly to Denmark, has drained the population and skill base, an ongoing phenomenon which peaked during an economic crisis from 1992 to 1996. Faroese society is undergoing further economic changes, principally due to the continuing decline of agriculture and fishing combined with the search for oil in the North Sea and efforts to substantially increase tourism. The expectation of this shift has resulted in intense debate, mainly related to how to stop oil revenue causing more societal problems than it solves. Nonetheless, Faroese are proud of their rich culture and national heritage and strongly seek to preserve it.
Examples of Vulnerability Issues
Flash flooding in Klaksvík on 18 September 2000.
Boat by Kunoy's harbour.
Oystercatcher in flight.
Lis Mortensen from the Faroes writes on 28 August 2003: "The splendid picture of the tjaldur is beautiful and provoking. It has got wool wrapped around its leg. This happens often and is caused by the fact that wool is littering the mountain side at the moment. The tjaldur will try to get rid of it, but the wool will become even tighter as time goes by and it may loose a leg or not survive at all."
Not your usual ro-ro vehicle ferry.
Lost in the clouds.
Tórshavn, the Faroese capital.
The mountain Skaelingur on Streymoy.
Boat races at Sandavágur.
Victors of a boat race at Sandavágur.
Rill cascading to the sea.
Tourists on a boat trip to the bird cliffs.
Puffins can't fly. They'd look silly.
The town of Sumba.
Outside and inside Faroe Islands' Maritime Rescue and Coordination Center.
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