Terrestrial habitat types

Terrestrial or land habitat types refer to non-aquatic natural habitats located inland from the coastline. Geothermal fields are classified separately and receive special attention. Many different types of terrestrial habitats are found in Iceland, with a varying level of vegetation cover. Many of them are subject to relatively minor human disturbance and can largely be defined as natural or semi-natural. These habitat types range from mire fens to parched lava fields, from bare gravelly flats to thriving birch forests, from high-temperature geothermal fields to glaciers, and from lowlands to mountain peaks.

In defining and classifying terrestrial habitat types in Iceland, a range of field measurements were taken, such as: percent cover of all plants; total vascular plant, moss, and lichen cover; cover of individual vascular plant species; vegetation height; soil depth; and soil carbon and pH. A total of 64 terrestrial habitat types have been defined for Iceland. These are grouped into 12 main categories or habitat type classes. Four anthropogenic habitat types are also described, as well as glaciers and unvegetated ice-dominated moraines.

Fact sheets

Habitat types are concisely described on fact sheets, which provide information on their appearance and their main features. They give both the Icelandic name for the habitat type and the corresponding English term under the EUNIS classification system. For new habitat types not covered under the EUNIS system, the proposed Icelandic and English names are given.

Fact sheets on non-geothermal habitat types provide a description of the soil and statistical information on several variables, including total plant cover; vascular plant, moss, and lichen cover; vegetation height; species richness; land slope; surface rocks; soil depth; and soil pH and carbon. Fact sheets also contain a list of the dominant vascular plant, moss and lichen species or species groups. Characteristic species of the habitat type are also mentioned if present. Similar habitat types are also listed, with links to the fact sheets for these types. Information is provided on the most common bird species found in the habitat type in question, if available.

Fact sheets on geothermal habitat types provide a description of the soil and statistical information on soil temperature, dominant plant species, and species richness of vascular plants, mosses and lichens within that habitat type. The fact sheets list geothermal vascular plant species (species restricted to areas of geothermal heat) and thermophilic vascular plants (species that do grow in cold ground but have greatly increased cover in geothermal areas).

All habitat type descriptions are accompanied by two photographs that are representative for the appearance of the habitat type. The rough distribution of the habitat type is shown on a basic 10x10 km grid square map. A more detailed map can be accessed in the map viewer. The total estimated area of the habitat type in Iceland is also given on the fact sheet, together with an assessment of its conservation value (from low to very high). The total area of geothermal habitat types is not known with certainty, meaning that an accurate total cannot be given in the fact sheets for these habitats.

L1 Fell fields, moraines and sands EUNIS-classification
L1.1 Eyðimelavist H5.3 Glacial moraines with very sparse or no vegetation
L1.2 Grasmelavist H5.3 Glacial moraines with very sparse or no vegetation
L1.3 Mosamelavist E4.21 Oroboreal Carex bigelowii-Racomitrium moss-heaths
L1.4 Víðimelavist H5.2 Glacial moraines with very sparse or no vegetation
L1.5 Sanda- og vikravist H6.25 Volcanic ash and lapilli fields
L1.6 Landmelhólavist H5.241 Icelandic inland dunes
L2 Exposed aeolian soils EUNIS-classification
L2.1 Moldavist New type, suggestion. H5.7 Icelandic exposed andic soils
L3 Screes and cliffs EUNIS-classification
L3.1 Urðarskriðuvist New type, suggestion. H2.13 Icelandic talus slopes
L3.2 Grasvíðiskriðuvist New type, suggestion. H2.12 Icelandic Salix herbacea screes
L3.3 Ljónslappaskriðuvist New type, suggestion. H2.11 Icelandic Alchemilla screes
L4 River plains EUNIS-classification
L4.1 Eyravist C3.6 Unvegetated or sparsely vegetated shores
L4.2 Auravist New type, suggestion. H5.351 Icelandic braided river plains
L5 Moss lands EUNIS-classification
L5.1 Hélumosavist E4.115 Boreal moss snowbed communities
L5.2 Melagambravist New type, suggestion. E4.26 Icelandic Racomitrium ericoides heaths
L5.3 Hraungambravist E4.25 Moss and lichen fjell fields
L6 Lava fields EUNIS-classification
L6.1 Eyðihraunavist H6.241 Barren Icelandic lava fields
L6.2 Fléttuhraunavist New type, suggestion. E4.241 Icelandic lava field lichen heaths
L6.3 Mosahraunavist E4.242 Icelandic lava field moss heaths
L6.4 Lynghraunavist New type, suggestion. E4.243 Icelandic lava field shrub heaths
L7 Coastal lands EUNIS-classification
L7.1 Sandstrandarvist B1.234 Icelandic sand beach perennial communities
L7.2 Malarstrandarvist B2.3 Upper shingle beaches with open vegetation
L7.3 Strandmelhólavist B1.311 Atlantic embryonic dunes
L7.4 Grashólavist B1.41 Northern fixed grey dunes
L7.5 Sjávarfitjungsvist A2.542 Atlantic lower shore communities
L7.6 Gulstararfitjavist New type, suggestion. A2.531G1 Icelandic Carex lyngbyei salt meadows
L7.7 Sjávarkletta- og eyjavist B3.31 Atlantic sea-cliff communities
L8 Wetlands EUNIS-classification
L8.1 Dýjavist D2.2C12 Philonotis-Saxifraga stellaris springs
L8.2 Rekjuvist D4.1J Icelandic stiff sedge fens
L8.3 Sandmýravist D4.261 Cottonsedge marsh-fens
L8.4 Hrossanálarvist E3.416 Juncus arcticus meadows
L8.5 Runnamýravist á hálendi D4.162 Boreal black sedge-brown moss fens
L8.6 Runnamýravist á láglendi D4.162 Boreal black sedge-brown moss fens
L8.7 Rimamýravist D3.2 Aapa mires
L8.8 Rústamýravist D3.1 Palsa mires
L8.9 Starungsmýravist D4.163 Icelandic black sedge-brown moss fens
L8.10 Hengistararflóavist New type, suggestion. D2.2933 Icelandic Carex rariflora alpine fens
L8.11 Brokflóavist D2.26 Common cotton-grass fens
L8.12 Starungsflóavist D4.163 Icelandic black sedge-brown moss fens
L8.13 Tjarnastararflóavist D2.332 Basicline bottle sedge quaking mires
L8.14 Gulstararflóavist D5.21B Icelandic Carex lyngbyei fens
L9 Grasslands EUNIS-classification
L9.1 Stinnastararvist New type, suggestion. E4.3C Icelandic Carex bigelowii grasslands
L9.2 Finnungsvist E1.711 Insular Nardus-Galium grasslands
L9.3 Bugðupuntsvist E1.73 Wavy hair-grass grasslands
L9.4 Snarrótarvist E3.4132 Boreal tufted hairgrass meadows
L9.5 Grasengjavist E1.7224 Icelandic Festuca grasslands
L9.6 Língresis- og vingulsvist E1.7221 Boreo-subalpine Agrostis grasslands
L9.7 Blómgresisvist E1.7223 Northern boreal Festuca grasslands
L10 Heathlands EUNIS-classification
L10.1 Mosamóavist New type, suggestion. E4.28 Icelandic Racomitrium grass heaths
L10.2 Flagmóavist F2.294 Arctic Dryas heaths
L10.3 Starmóavist New type, suggestion. E4.29 Icelandic Carex bigelowii heaths
L10.4 Grasmóavist New type, suggestion. E1.2617 Icelandic Empetrum Thymus grasslands
L10.5 Fléttumóavist New type, suggestion. E4.27 Icelandic lichen Racomitrium heaths
L10.6 Fjalldrapamóavist F2.255 North Atlantic boreo-alpine heaths
L10.7 Lyngmóavist á hálendi F2.112 Oroboreal moss-dwarf willow snowbed communities
L10.8 Lyngmóavist á láglendi F4.211 North Atlantic Vaccinium-Empetrum-Racomitrium heaths
L10.9 Víðimóavist New type, suggestion. F2.113 Icelandic Salix lanata/S. phylicifolia scrub
L10.10 Víðikjarrvist F2.322 Oroboreal willow scrub
L11 Woodlands EUNIS-classification
L11.1 Kjarrskógavist G1.91711 Boreo-Atlantic crowberry-bog bilberry birch woods
L11.2 Lyngskógavist G1.91713 Icelandic bog billberry-hairgrass birch woods
L11.3 Blómskógavist G1.91714 Icelandic cranesbill birch woods
L12 Geothermal lands EUNIS-classification
L12.1 Mýrahveravist New type, suggestion. C2.1431 Geothermal wetlands
L12.2 Móahveravist New type, suggestion. H6.152 Geothermal heathlands
L12.3 Fjallahveravist New type, suggestion. C2.1432  Geothermal alpine habitats
L12.4 Hveraleirsvist New type, suggestion. H6.151 Icelandic solfatars/Geothermal bare grounds
L13 Glaciers EUNIS-classification
L13.1 Jöklar og urðarjöklar H4.2, H4.3 Glaciers, rock glaciers and unvegetated ice-dominated moraines
L14 Other land types EUNIS-classification
L14.1 Þéttbýli og annað manngert land Constructed, industrial and other artificial habitats
L14.2 Tún og akurlendi Cultivated agricultural, horticultural and domestic habitats
L14.3 Skógrækt G4.F Mixed forestry plantations
L14.4 Alaskalúpína E5.15 Land reclamation forb fields
L14.5 Uppgræðslur New type, suggestion. E5.16 Land reclamation grass fields
L14.6 Skógarkerfill og fleiri áþekkar tegundir E5.12 Weed communities of recently abandoned urban and suburban constructions