Use of the Tundra landscape

Native people have lived in the world's tundra for thousands of years without irreparably damaging it. They practise a primitive form of survival by hunting and fishing for all of their food, including birds, seals, walrus and whales.

It is a traditional and sustainable lifestyle which involves catching just enough food for survival. Along with other features of their culture and traditional way of life, Inuit hunters' methods of getting food are under threat from large-scale developments.

Misuse of the tundra landscape

The tundra environment is among the least disturbed ecosystems in the world. However, that is changing with the discovery of large reserves of raw materials.

Mines have opened up resources, such as gold and diamonds under the land in tundra regions, eg Arctic Canada. Oil rigs have enabled oil to be drilled in the sea. In Alaska, the oil is exported from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields in raised pipes above the ground to the ice-free port of Valdez.

Natural gas (methane hydrate) is extracted from the Messoyakha Gas Field in western Siberia. Natural gas is pumped from beneath the permafrost and piped east across the tundra to the Norilsk metal smelter, the biggest industrial enterprise in the Arctic.

New industries have led to the creation of towns such as Anchorage in Alaska which have been built to accommodate workers. These developments spoil the appearance of the natural landscape. New roads have been built to transport people and goods. This increases the number of vehicles in the tundra creating noise and air pollution. Illegal hunting and fishing is threatening the numbers of certain species, eg whales.