Nordaustlandet's vegetation

Svalbard poppyThe Svalbard poppy (Papaver dahlianum) is characteristic for the Arctic polar desert zone. (Image: Øystein Overrein / The Norwegian Polar Institute) Landscape practically without vegetationIn the north of Palanderbukta, the landscape is practically without vegetation. (Image: Kit Kovacs & Christian Lydersen / The Norwegian Polar Institute)

More than three-quarters of the island of Nordaustlandet is permanently ice-covered, leaving little room for plant life. Only 1% of the island is covered by rich grass vegetation types. Most of Nordaustlandet’s vegetation belongs to the Arctic polar desert zone. On the peninsulas in the north and in the middle of the island, east of Wahlenbergfjorden, the vegetation is dominated by northern wood-rush (Luzula confusa). In the areas around Murchisonfjorden and Wahlenbergfjorden as well as the inner parts of Rijpfjorden the vegetation is somewhat more thermophilous (warmth-loving). A characteristic species is the Arctic wood-rush (Luzula nivalis), a sedge hat belongs to the northern Arctic tundra zone. These areas are also the most important areas for reindeer to graze.

There are 11 red-listed vascular plants in Nordaust-Svalbard and Southeast-Svalbard nature reserves. Within the former reserve there is recorded 102 species of vascular plants.

Updated May 2015

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