Land and Resources, Vegetation and Animal Life
polar fox, cloudberry, Scotch pine, lingonberry, food scarcity
Forests cover slightly more than one-fourth of Norway’s land area. Mainly deciduous forests are found in the coastal areas of southern and southwestern Norway. The principal species are birch, ash, hazel, elm, maple, and linden, but in some locations oak, yew, and holly may be found. To the east and north the forests contain increasing numbers of conifers. Thick boreal coniferous forests are found in coastal regions and in the valleys of eastern and central Norway. These forests are dominated by Scotch pine and Norway spruce, but also contain birch, alder, aspen, and mountain ash. Wild berries, such as the blueberry, lingonberry (the fruit of the mountain cranberry), and cloudberry, grow in most woodland areas. In the far north and at high elevations are tundra regions. The tundra is a treeless heath, with vegetation consisting mainly of hardy dwarf shrubs and wildflowers. Some 2,000 varieties of flowering plants grow in Norway.
Species of reindeer, polar fox, polar hare, wolf, musk-ox, and wolverine are common in the north and in the higher mountain areas. Moose, deer, fox, otter, and marten are found in the south and southeast. In the south large predatory animals, including wolf and bear, have been hunted nearly to extinction. Game birds, such as grouse, thrive in the mountains and valleys, and migratory seabirds breed on the shores of northern Norway. Both freshwater and saltwater fishes abound. Salmon, trout, grayling, perch, and pike are common in the streams and lakes. Herring, cod, halibut, haddock, mackerel, and other species spawn in coastal waters. One of Norway’s most curious inhabitants is the lemming, a small arctic rodent found in higher areas and in the north. Periodically, when overpopulation of lemmings leads to food scarcity, great hordes of the animals migrate to the lowlands in search of food, where some unwittingly plunge to their deaths in the sea.
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