Greenland's pristine biomes must be preserved from the climate crisis

The country among the ice has a peculiar flora and fauna, at risk from anthropic activities

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Greenland's pristine biomes must be preserved from the climate crisis
© Mario Tama / Staff Getty Images News

Greenland is rich in delicate biomes and ecosystems, which must be preserved and protected, especially from the anthropic activities that are incessantly modifying our planet. There are around 700 known species of insects in Greenland, few compared to other countries.

Much of Greenland's fauna is associated with marine-based food chains, including large colonies of seabirds. There are dozens of species of pinnipeds and whales along the coast. The latter frequently pass very close to the Greenland coasts at the end of summer and beginning of autumn.

Whale species include the beluga, blue whale, bowhead whale, fin whale, humpback whale, narwhal, globicephala, and sperm whale. Among marine mammals, we have the hooded seal and the gray seal. The few native land mammals found in Greenland include the polar bear, reindeer, arctic fox, arctic hare, musk ox, lemma, ermine, and arctic wolf.

The latter four are naturally found only in eastern Greenland, having immigrated from Ellesmere Island. There are no native or living reptiles or amphibians on the island. Plant life consists mainly of meadows and small shrubs, which are regularly grazed by livestock.

The most common native Greenland tree is the European white birch along with the grey-leaved willow, mountain ash, common juniper and other smaller trees, mainly willows.

Why I say biomes of Greenland are in dangers

Birds, particularly seabirds, are an important part of Greenland's animal life: breeding populations of alcids, puffins, skuas and kittiwakes are found on steep mountainsides.

Breeding migratory birds include the common eider, long-tailed duck, king eider, white-fronted goose, rose-legged goose and barnacle goose. Non-migratory land birds include the Arctic ptarmigan, ptarmigan, long-eared owl, snowy owl, gyrfalcon, and white-tailed eagle.

The flora of Greenland consists of about 500 species of higher plants, including angiosperms, fern, horsetail and lycopodiophyta. Of the other groups, lichens are the most diverse, with around 950 species. There are 600-700 species of mushrooms; and mosses and bryophytes can also be found.

Most of Greenland's tallest plants have circumpolar or circumboreal distributions. Some plant species were introduced by the Norwegians, such as vicia cracca. Greenland's terrestrial vertebrates include the Greenland dog, which was introduced by the Inuit, while Europeans introduced species such as Greenland sheep, goats, cattle, reindeer, horses, chickens and sheepdogs, all descendants of animals imported by Europeans.