There are currently 12 protected areas in Greenland. The areas each have their own history and serve to protect unique landscapes or habitats for wildlife. It is possible to move about, fish and hunt in most of the protected areas. In some protected areas, there are restrictions on access and hunting and fishing in order to ensure the areas’ continued importance for wildlife.
Today there are three different types of protected areas in Greenland. They are:
- National parks
- Nature reserves
- Protected areas
In practice there is no difference in how the three types of protected areas are managed, and in recent years, there has been a movement away from using the designations of National Park and Nature Reserve for newly designated areas.
The following terrestrial areas are protected:
A) The nature reserve in Melville Bay. The area has been protected since 1989, because of Melville Bay’s unique significance for narwhals which seek food along the edge of the ice.
B) Kitsussunnguit – Green Ejland is designated both as a protected area and as a Ramsar site to protect and enhance the ecosystem and the rich biodiversity, with particular focus on the area’s breeding Arctic terns, as well as the islands’ importance to outdoor recreation.
C) Ilulissat Ice Fjord is a protected area which has also been included on UNESCO’ World Heritage list. It is Greenland’s only World Heritage Site. The purpose of the World Heritage list is to protect the world’s cultural and natural heritage from destruction, so that future generations can enjoy the Earth’s unique landscapes and cultural monuments.
Ilulissat Ice Fiord’s distinctiveness is due to the combination of the high production of icebergs from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier at the bottom of the fjord and the presence of the iceberg bank at the mouth of the fjord.
D) Arnangarnup Qoorua - Paradise Valley is designated as a protected area because of its scenic beauty and its cultural and scientific importance. All fishing and hunting are prohibited in this area.
E) The area around the Arctic Station is protected under the proclamation of 1985. No buildings can be built or peat cut or pebble gravel dug in the area, which is to be used purely for research.
F) The National Park in North and East Greenland is the world’s largest national park. This National Park is also the world’s largest biosphere area under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB).
Access to the National Park requires special permission, which you can read more about here.
G) Austmannadalen and the surrounding area is a designated protected area with the aim of preserving the area’s appearance and historical relics, as well as that of securing the area against destruction. The designation is also meant to protect the flock of wild-living domestic sheep in the area.
H) The island of Akilia is designated as a protected area to protect the geological formations on the island, which are of scientific importance.
I) An area outside the urban area in Ivittuut and Kangilinnguit is a designated protected area with the aim of preserving the area’s natural and landscape values, historical relics, as well as to protect the area against destruction; it includes the Ikaite columns in Ikka Fjord. The protection will also help to ensure the possibility for the sustainable utilisation of the area and the area’s living resources, as well as the protection of the common seal population at Qoornoq.
J) Qinnguadalen, Qinngeq Kujalleq, Lake Tasersuaq, as well as the land up to 50 metres from the lakeshore, the River Kuussuaq, as well as the area 50 metres from Kuussuaq’s south bank up to, and including, the forest area of Qasigeerneq are designated protected areas. The purpose is to protect the unique vegetation in the area, including birch vegetation and valuable landscape features.
K) Part of Uunartoq Island is designated as a protected area with the aim of protecting the island’s unique thermal springs, as well as its natural and cultural / historical value.
L) Klosterdalen is protected in a National Congress Statute from 1970. All vegetation in Klosterdalen is protected, just as all wildlife harvesting is prohibited except for hunting of foxes and grouse outside the normal protected seasons.