Although native trees grow in many locations of Southern Greenland, the only natural forest in this largest island of the world is located in Qinngua Valley.
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Qinngua Valley (synonym – Paradise valley) is located in spectacular land – in the rugged mountains of Southern Greenland. Sometimes this land is compared to the Alps, but, it seems, no other place is similar to these spectacular mountains.
It is well possible to have an unforgettable, approximately 20 km long walk through Qinngua Valley to Kangikitsoq Fjord. The beautiful valley is flanked by rugged, snow-capped mountains, rising up to 1.6 km high above the floor of the valley. Just a handful of tourists come here every year.
Greenland is located in the arctic climatic zone, but some southern valleys further away from the sea have somewhat less harsh, subarctic climates.
Qinngua might have the mildest climate – this valley is located some 45 – 50 km from the sea and is not orientated towards the glaciers. Thus the cold wind from the enormous central glaciers here is felt much less than elsewhere. Summers here are warmer and the climate is more stable than at the sea. Thus the warm weather here lasts long enough for plants to grow in the summer and winds – less strong, allowing for trees to grow up.
The only true forest in Greenland
In some places in southern Greenland forests are planted – and even harvested.
Qinngua forest nevertheless is the only true forest in Greenland. It is possible that in earlier times, before the coming of Norse people, the forest was growing in some more places, which were converted to pasture and lost the natural forest. The few species of trees in Greenland are sensitive to sheep grazing.
Trees in Qinngua and along the banks of Tasersuaq Lake grow up to 6 – 8 m tall. Most trees are downy birches (Betula pubescens) and gray-leaf willows (Salix glauca).
Here grows also Greenlandic mountain ash (Sorbus groenlandica), mostly as a shrub, but also as trees reaching several meters high. In total in the valley grow more than 300 species of plants.
Walking through this thicket though is far from being fun – bushes are very dense and in the summer millions of midges are waiting for their victims.
Valley is a protected natural area since 1930.
The first settlement of Europeans in America?
There is a hypothesis that there was located Brattahlid – the farm of the first European settler in America – Eric the Red (1). Here, near the mouth of the stream in Tasersuaq Lake have been found remnants of abandoned, very large Norse farm. This could be the largest known Norse farm in Greenland. It is possible that here was located also Leiðar church.
Farm was established sometime around 985 – 1020 AD. In some unknown time, possibly some centuries later, it was abandoned.
- Kevin J. Edwards, J. Edward Schofield and Jette Arneborg. Was Erik the Red’s Brattahlið Located at Qinngua? A Dissenting View. Viking and Medieval Scandinavia. Volume 6, Volume 6 / 2010, pp. 83-99.
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