Interests of the Government of Greenland in the open country

A number of aspects of the open country are of special interest to the Government of Greenland and form the basis for municipal planning and land administration. Consequently, these aspects are to be considered when preparing plans for the open country.

Environmental protection

To protect the environment, planning and execution of activities, such as establishment of buildings and facilities, are to pay maximum attention to the environment and nature. To the extent possible, the risk of pollution and other harmful impact on the environment is to be avoided. Liquids and substances that may pollute the environment and nature are to be used, stored and transported to avoid any kind of pollution. Oil and chemical waste is to be handled and deposited pursuant to the Government of Greenland’s executive order no. 29 of 17 September 1993 on oil and chemical waste.

The environmental order includes rules for the protection of drinking water resources and related catchment zones that supply drinking water for towns and settlements. The Government of Greenland has defined protection zones around drinking water lakes and their catchment zones to protect these. Within these protection zones, it is not possible to zone areas for buildings, facilities or other activities that may pollute the water resource catchment zones. In practice, the only activities permitted within such zones are activities that aim to improve supply reliability or improve the water quality.

Nature protection

In accordance with the Protection of Nature Act, nature’s biological diversity in terms of plant and animal species is to be protected, landscape values are to be conserved and looked after, and the public’s opportunities to move about in nature are to be secured. The Protection of Nature Act states that no changes can be made to the terrain within a distance of 100 metres from trout streams, salt lakes, hot springs or the coastline. In other words, no buildings, fences, plantation or the like may be established within these protection lines. Exempt from these rules are only farming as well as hunting and emergency huts.

Furthermore, the municipal council may decide to prepare a subarea plan in the open country to obtain exemption to lay out areas for recreational huts, holiday cottages or tourist huts, based on special local conditions. Applications for exemption are to be submitted to the Government of Greenland’s nature protection authority.

Conservation of land areas

National and international conservation of land areas is to be safeguarded in accordance with the Protection of Nature Act, existing executive order, administration plans as well as international agreements and conventions, such as Ramsar areas and UNESCO areas.

The following areas in Avannaata Kommunia have national conservation status:

  • Melville Bay Nature Reserve between Upernavik and Qaanaaq, because it is an important breeding area for narwhal. Executive order no. 21 of 17 May 1989.
  • Ilulissat Kangia ice fiord included on UNESCO's World Heritage List because of its unique glaciological conditions and natural beauty. Executive order no. 10 of 15 June 2007.

Rookeries and bird protection areas

The executive order on birds (The Government of Greenland’s executive order no. 5 of 29 February 2008 on the protection of birds) defines a number of rookeries and bird protection areas. Special restrictions apply to the bird protection areas: Within a distance of 500 metres, no facilities are to be established and no disruptive activities are to take place within the vulnerable period. There are two types of rookery: The first involves a 3,000-metre protection zone around the rookery, within which it is not permitted to fire a weapon or in any way cause disruption. The other rookery features a 1,000-metre protection zone around the rookery, within which it is not permitted to fire a weapon or in any way cause disruption.

Vulnerable areas in the open country have also been reserved for the protection of other endangered species such as musk oxen, reindeer, walruses and polar bears.

The 8 bird protection areas are:

  • Lion Islands south of Qeqertat (1)
  • Kuup Apparsui/Kap Schackleton (2)
  • Toqqusaaq (3)
  • Kingittuarsuk, west-northwest of Angissoq (4)
  • Upernaviup Apparsui/Sandersons Hope (5)
  • Kippakup Apparsuit (6)
  • Salleq (7)
  • Appat Innaat/the bird cliff Appat at Ritenbenk (12)

Cultural history and ancient monuments

The protection of the cultural heritage in the shape of in-situ monuments, buildings and cultural historical areas is regulated by the Act on protection of cultural monuments. The Greenland National Museum is responsible for safeguarding national heritage. An in-situ monument is a physical trace of human activity from ancient times. When an in-situ monument is preserved, it cannot be damaged, modified or relocated in part or in full. Within a distance of two metres from an ancient monument, no activities are permitted. Within a distance of 20 metres, only farming is allowed.

If a developer comes across in-situ monuments during excavation works, the developer is immediately to inform the Greenland National Museum and stop work to the extent that it affects the monument. In cooperation with planning and raw materials authorities and others involved in utilisation of the national resources, the Greenland National Museum is to work to preserve in-situ elements for posterity. The planning and raw materials authorities are also to involve the Greenland National Museum in the development of planning material in connection with permits that may affect monuments. Today, the museum’s database holds more than 5,000 preservation elements.

Preservation areas in Avannaata Kommunia include:

  • Qallunaarmiut – the entire site (area by Zion Church in Ilulissat)
  • Kagdlo – the entire site (Appat)
  • Igdluluarssuk at Sarkak – the entire site (Ritenbenk district)
  • Ilutalik at Torssukatak – the large ruin, graves at Nangissat (Appat)
  • Serfat – the entire site (Appat)
  • Saputit – the reindeer hunting fence (Appat)
  • All ruins on the Island of Issua (Uummannaq district)
  • Eqaluit – the entire site (Uummannaq district)
  • Nuussuaq – bear trap weir (Uummannaq district)
  • Nussak – the entire site (Uummannaq district)
  • All ruins north of Nugssuak (Kraulshavn) (Upernavik district)
  • Inugsuk – midden not excavated (Upernavik district)
  • Gl. Skibshavn – the entire site (Upernavik district)
  • Bruuns Island – the entire site (Upernavik district)
  • Nugaarsuk in Umiarfik Fjord – the entire site (Upernavik district)

The Greenland National Museum keeps a register of all preserved cultural monuments. The museum is the only institution with access to the register and the technical competencies needed to assess the information in the register. Many preserved cultural monuments can be hard to spot with the naked eye. For this reason, the Greenland National Museum is to review all applications involving areas in the open country in order to assess whether the application may lead to conflicts with Greenland Parliament Act no. 11 of 19 May 2010 on listing and other cultural heritage preservation of cultural relics and monuments.


To secure facilities for teleinfrastructure and radio transmission, prior to the establishment of buildings and facilities within a radius of one (1) kilometre, or 150 metres and -25 metres in elevation, from a telecommunication facility, a permit application is to be submitted to Tele Greenland A/S (the telecommunications authority). The same applies should the establishment be considered to affect telecommunications.