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.
This page provides information specifically related to vulnerability (including risk, disasters, and sustainability), rather than general information such as travel details, a country profile, all government websites, or history. The information provided is not intended to be comprehensive, but is indicative of the vulnerabilities which the Faroe Islands experience and how sustainable solutions might be developed and implemented. The publications listed reflect those in the library of Island Vulnerability.
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."
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.
And what trip could be complete without your requisite Japanese tourists sporting a camcorder, lifejackets, and hardhats? Nice shades.
The town of Sumba.
Some Resources in English
This list is not comprehensive, but is indicative of the work which has been done and the groups and people involved in issues related to the Faroe Islands' vulnerability. The publications listed reflect those in the library of Island Vulnerability.
Atlanticon. 2000. GEM Review June 2000. Atlanticon, Tórshavn, Faroes.
Dam, M. 2000. Integrated Ecological Monitoring in the Coastal Zone: Environmental Pollutants, Faroe Islands. Heilsufrøðiliga starvsstovan (Food and Environmental Agency), Tórshavn, Faroes.
"Faroese Culture -- The Way We See It". 1999. Ferðaráð Føroya, Tórshavn, Faroes. Information booklet.
Granskingarverkætlanin fyri Økismenning
Hovgaard, G. 2000. Globalisation, Embeddedness and Local Coping Strategies: A Comparative and Qualitative Study of Local Dynamics in Contemporary Social Change. PhD Dissertation, Department of Social Sciences, Roskilde University. Thesis no. 29/2001.
Hydrocarbon Planning Commission. 1993. Report of the Hydrocarbon Planning Commission to the Faroese Government: A Contribution to Planning a Strategy for Future Oil and Gas Exploration in the Faroe Islands. Hydrocarbon Planning Commission, Tórshavn, Faroes.
Hydrocarbon Planning Commission. 1997. Preparation for Oil Exploration: Report of the Hydrocarbon Planning Commission to the Faroese Government. Hydrocarbon Planning Commission, Tórshavn, Faroes.
Jakobsen, L.P., K. Mølsted, and K. Christensen. 2003. "Occurrence of Cleft Lip and Palate in the Faroe Islands and Greenland From 1950 to 1999". The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 426-430.
James, A., I. Kelman, T. Tebano, and M. Skinner. 2004. “Principles for Island Development: Ownership, Identity and Honesty”. Small Islands Voice Global Forum, 17 February 2004. http://www.sivglobal.org/?read=53
Lawson, I.T., M.J. Church, T.H. McGovern, S.V. Arge, J. Woollet, K.J. Edwards, F.J. Gathorne-Hardy, A.J. Dugmore, G. Cook, K.-A. Mairs, A.M. Thomson, and G. Sveinbjarnardóttir. 2005. "Historical Ecology on Sandoy, Faroe Islands: Palaeoenvironmental and Archaeological Perspectives". Human Ecology, vol. 33, no. 5 (October), pp. 651-684.
"Koltur -- A Faroese Island". Information booklet. Neither publisher nor date given.
Lindström, G., H. Wingfors, M. Dam, B. v. Bavel. 1999. "Identification of 19 Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in Long-Finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala melas) from the Atlantic". Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, vol. 36, no. 3 (April), pp. 355-363.
Løgmansskrivstovan. 2002. The Faroe Islands: A North Atlantic Perspective on Sustainable Development. Løgmansskrivstovan (The Prime Minister’s Office), Tórshavn, Faroes.
McCallum Petterson Financial Diagnostics. 1999 (October). Fiscal Adjustment and Economic Progress: An Optimal Fiscal and Legal Framework to Promote Economic Growth and Investment in the Faroe Islands. McCallum Petterson Financial Diagnostics, Wellington, New Zealand.
Ministry of Fisheries. 2003. "Emergency Response Notification of Pollution or Other Leakage". Information cards, A4 size and wallet size.
Outside and inside Faroe Islands' Maritime Rescue and Coordination Center.
Santer, R., M. Kinner, U. Steuerwald, S. Kjaergaard, F. Skovby, H. Simonsen, W.L. Shaiu, Y.T. Chen, R. Schneppenheim, and J. Schaub. 2001. "Molecular genetic basis and prevalence of glycogen storage disease type IIIA in the Faroe Islands". European Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 9, no. 5, pp. 388-391.
Stoltenberg, M., A. Larsen, K. Kemp, D. Bloch, and P. Weihe. 2003. "Autometallographic tracing of mercury in pilot whale tissues in the Faroe Islands". International Journal of Circumpolar Health, vol. 62, no. 2 (May), pp. 182-9.
The material on the Island Vulnerability website is provided as only an information source. Neither definitive advice nor recommendations are implied. Each person or organisation accessing the website is responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed and are strongly advised to verify all information. No liability will be accepted for loss or damage incurred as a result of using the material on this website. The appearance of external links on this website does not constitute endorsement of the organisations, information, products, or services contained on that external website.