By Øystein Overrein
Areas situated at a height, as well as barren areas around Woodfjorden and its surrounding fjords belong to the Arctic polar desert, which is characterized by the Svalbard poppy. The vegetation in Reinsdyrflya belongs to the northern Arctic tundra zone. The same type of vegetation can be found on the other side of the fjord, by Gråhuken. This is an important botanical area which contains several threatened species.
The vegetation in the lower areas in the south of Liefdefjorden, around Bockfjorden and in the east of Woodfjorden is more thermophilous – warm-loving. It belongs to the mid-Arctic tundra zone, as do the deposit areas in the bottom of the valley Woodfjorddalen. Another area with thermophilous vegetation is found near Trollkjeldene, the geothermal springs near Bockfjorden. Six vascular plants occur near these springs, as well as six types of mosses and one species of charophyte which cannot be found anywhere else in Svalbard. All the plants grow in a defined, circular area of about 1000 m2 around the thermal springs. This is a unique botanical locality which is very vulnerable to being damaged by people stepping on it. The area also attracts plant eaters, such as geese, reindeer and ptarmigan. There are also vulnerable vascular plants by the Jotunkjeldene thermal springs and in the bay Sørdalsbukta, west of Liefdefjorden.
Published April 2009
Norwegian Polar Institute