Coastal Barrens

This ecoregion is composed of islands, exposed headlands, and protected inlets, from Napaktok Bay south to the Strait of Belle Isle. The climate of the region is characterized by short, moist, cool summers and long, cold winters. The mean summer temperature is 7°C and the mean winter temperature is -13.5°C. The mean annual temperature is around -3.5°C. The mean annual precipitation ranges from 600 mm in the north to over 1000 mm in the south.


Moist, sheltered valley slopes provide ideal conditions for white spruce forests with a moss understory. Coastal heath exists along headlands and ridges. Marine terraces are suitable for salt marshes and plateau bogs. High areas have exposed bedrock, with lichens and mosses growing on sheltered lee slopes and in small cracks. Scrubland consisting of alder, dwarf birch, and Labrador tea dominate in areas subjected to fires. Deeply incised U-shaped valleys occur in conjunction with steep-sided, rounded mountains and fjords extend well inland. Large bogs can be found south of the former community of Davis Inlet, and salt marshes occur on large marine terraces. Permafrost occurs in isolated patches.

Wildlife and Human Activity

The ecoregion provides important habitat for migratory seabird colonies, as well as areas for seal whelping. Caribou live on the shore and islands south of Groswater Bay. Hunting, trapping, fishing, and outdoor recreation are common activities. Oil and mineral exploration has recently become a major activity in the region. For example, Voisey's Bay, the site of one of the Canada's largest nickel deposits, is located here. Most of the ecoregion's population reside in the communities of Nain, Makkovik, Hopedale, Cartwright, and Natuashish.

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