Iceland Discontinued from European Environmental Studies Seminar
Tourists view multiple water falls. Photo courtesy of Vanessa Komada.

Iceland Discontinued from European Environmental Studies Seminar

The European Environmental Studies Seminar will be cutting Iceland out of their program next year.

The European Environmental Seminar, which is an option for the required summer field experience for College of Natural Resource students, is divided into equal amounts of learning time between selected countries.

As noted on the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point international programs website, this course gives students the opportunity to learn how several European countries manage their natural resources in comparison to the United States.

These include studies on practices in wildlife management, agroforestry and renewable energy.  

The sun shines on the rocks. Photo courtesy of Vanessa Komada.

The trip highlights consist of exploring the unique ecology of the Pieniny and Tatra National Parks in Poland, observing examples of intensive and multiple land use in the Black Forest in Germany and, until this year in Iceland, experiencing the Westman Islands and glacial landscapes.

Tim Ginnett, the CNR Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, said cutting Iceland was a financial decision.

“The cost of the Iceland trip is exploding. Because Iceland has become a popular tourist destination, hotel prices are up, food prices are up, transportation prices are up, everything is going up. The program last year sustained a loss because of the cost of the Iceland part of the trip,” Ginnett said.  

In addition to this, he said it was not meeting the same academic level as Poland and Germany.

Vanessa Komada, junior ecosystem restoration major, attended the seminar last year.

“I’d be ok with it going either way,” Komada said. “Iceland is so different from every other country… It was fascinating, but if your trying to compare it to a program like Treehaven, I felt like doing more field work in that country would have been more beneficial. That’s what I think they were lacking in Iceland, more of the field work.”

A scenic overlook of Iceland. Photo courtesy of Vanessa Komada.

Komada said that tourists outnumber the population of the country.

As Iceland is building infrastructure to support the growing numbers of tourists, both the infrastructure and the tourists themselves are having a negative impact on the environment.

While the building of infrastructure itself is at odds with the environment, individuals create a negative impact when they go off-trail in restricted preservation areas.

Though Iceland offered a unique landscape, Poland and Germany still hold large focal points for students in the program.

The Black Forest in Germany, one of the most beautiful locations in the country, and Polish national parks offer plenty of opportunities for hands on experience such as soil and water sampling.


Marty Pikula

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