Climate change could bring about the forestation of Greenland by the end of the century, scientists predict.
Today only four indigenous tree species grow on the large island, confined to small areas in the south. Three-quarters of Greenland, the world’s most sparsely populated country, is covered by a barren ice sheet.
But by the year 2100 swathes of verdant forest could be covering much of its land surface. “Greenland has...the potential to become a lot greener,” Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, from Aarhus University in Denmark, said. “Forest like the coastal coniferous forests in Alaska and western Canada will be able to thrive in fairly large parts of Greenland… with trees like sitka spruce and lodgepole pine. It will provide new opportunities for the Greenlanders.”
Research showed that with expected levels of warming, a majority of 44 species of North American and European trees and bushes will be able to thrive in Greenland.
The transformation is likely to alter Greenland’s ecosystem, leading to the loss of Arctic animals and plants. On the other hand there could be significant commercial possibilities linked to forestry, agriculture and tourism.