Denmark’s newest Ramsar Site in Greenland

Denmark’s newest Ramsar Site in Greenland

8 February 2012
Denmark

The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that Denmark has designated its 39th Wetland of International Importance, and its 12th in the territory of Greenland. Ørsted Dal, Pingel Dal and Enhjørningen Dal (218,000 hectares 71°40'N 023°24'W) comprises three wide valleys with extensive freshwater wetlands, including large rivers and extensive marshes, in an otherwise alpine area (from sea level up to 1,300m) along the eastern coast of Greenland, some 110km north of the settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit (pop. 450). One of the valleys, Ørsted/Colorado Dal, has a number of lakes and ponds as well and becomes snowfree earlier than others in the region, thus providing breeding habitat for 18-20 species of shorebirds and waterbirds.

The area is especially significant for its high numbers of Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis and Pink-footed Geese Anser brachyrynchus, but the higher ground is also an important site for the Muskox Ovibos moschatus. The Lemming Dicrostonyx collaris and Arctic Fox Alopex lagopus are commonly found, and the vulnerable mammals the Arctic Wolf Canis lupus and Polar Bear Ursus maritimus are present in smaller numbers. In addition, there are some 150 species of vascular plants and an endemic species, Saxifraga nathorstii, as well as an endemic variety of Potentilla stipularis var. groenlandica.

In most of the site all activities related to mineral exploration are regulated, and designation as a national protected area, prohibiting mineral exploitation, is under consideration.