Iceland boreal birch forests and alpine tundra


Covering almost the entirety of Iceland, this ecoregion is composed of a complex array of tundra, heath, grasslands and bogs with occasional forests of birch. The area has an arctic climate and is dominated by oceanic weather patterns with generally year-round cool temperatures and high seasonal fluctuations in light.


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Background – CC Attribution Share Alike 2.0 Generic – Ragnhild & Neil Crawford, 2007 / Map – CC Attribution Share Alike 4.0 International – Every-leaf-that-trembles, 2020

Help your Ecoregion
So what can you do to help your ecoregion? Below is a list to help you support your ecoregion, while also achieving life's everyday tasks. Don’t underestimate your power in doing good for nature!


Food and Homeware: Algalif


Holidays: Icelandic Mountain Guides by Icelandia
Waste Management: Carbfix

At Home
Below is a list of actions you can easily take at home to minimise your impact on the ecoregion in which you live, and the rest of the planet too!
In your Garden
Below is a list of native plants and habitat creation tips you can use in your garden or on your property to give your ecoregion and its species a boost!


Canopy layer - Plant native broadleaf trees such as Downy Birch (Betula pubescens) and Aspen (Populus tremula). Coniferous species such as Common Juniper (Juniperus communis) are also great and add nice form. To create habitat, consider installation of nestboxes for native birds and creating hollows in old, dead tree limbs.


Sub-canopy layer - Plant native sub-canopy trees like the beautiful Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) which provides copious fruits for birds. To create habitat, consider installation of nestboxes for native birds and creating tree hollows in old, dead tree limbs.


Shrub layer - Plant hardy shrubs like Tea-leaved Willow (Salix phylicifolia), Bog Bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), Black Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), Garden Angelica (Angelica archangelica) and Alpine Lady's-mantle (Alchemilla alpina). These plants create dense shrubby refugia for birds and mammals. To create habitat, consider installing insect hotels, compost-heaps and bird-baths in this layer.


Ground-layer - Plant swathes of native herbs like the Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala), Wild Thyme (Thymus praecox), Moss Campion (Silene acaulis), Wood Crane's-bill (Geranium sylvaticum) and Water Mint (Mentha aquatica). To create habitat, consider installing a pond or bog-garden with native aquatic and riparian plants, log-piles for sheltering amphibians and reptiles and leave areas of leaf-litter for important insects.

Sitting in the north Atlantic, Iceland is a relatively large island that is dominated by a single ecoregion. This ecoregion is comprised of large tracts of relatively undisturbed wilderness; primarily tundra, White Birch forest and grasslands. This ancient volcanic ecoregion is governed by a combination of cool temperatures, high fluctuations in light and sporadic volcanic activity, with some areas under regular stochastic change due to eruptions of lava. There are over 480 species of native plants with a high representation of sedges and grasses. Animals are specialised to living in arctic conditions, with many species hibernating through cold winters. The ecoregion also contains some remarkable natural features such as waterfalls and exposed tectonic plates.
Ecoregion Structure
The structure of the ecoregion is defined as the key living and non-living features characterising its ecosystems, and the differences between how these ecosystems are arranged. For example, layers of vegetation, geology, habitat features and landscapes.


Volcanic island



Iconic Landscapes

Native plant communities

Scenes by @blueringmedia
Ecoregion Composition
The composition of the ecoregion is defined as the biodiversity that inhabits its ecosystems, and the differences between this biodiversity. For example, communities, populations, species, subspecies and genetic traits.
Keystone Species​
Keystone species are those that have a disproportionately large effect on the ecosystems in which they live, relative to their natural abundance there. In other words, species with a really important role in the health of ecosystems.
Flagship Species
Flagship species are those that are chosen by people to represent a wider conservation message, usually for a given place or social context, and as such often carry conservation messages for wider biodiversity.
Recently Extinct Species
All around the world, biodiversity is declining at a concerning rate. For some species it's already too late, and they have disappeared from the ecoregions they once called home. These are some examples of those lost species.

Great Auk
(Pinguinus impennis)

Ecoregion Function
The function of the ecoregion is defined as how its structural and compositional components all work together to form ecological relationships and processes which change over time through geological shifts and evolution by natural selection.

Keystone Relationships

Reindeer play an important role in the Icelandic tundra - these amazing mammals move in herds that help structure native plant communities through trampling and cycle nutrients back into the soil through their droppings.

Life-support Systems​

Biodiversity is fundamental to a healthy planet and thriving communities, but the world's species are under tremendous threat.