The luxuriant fjords on Seiland were previously used for hay-making and pastures for farm animals, and the area is still grazed today by reindeer, and in some places sheep. This has produced a unique cultural landscape featuring verdigris mountainsides dominated by grass, perennials and herbs. The barren mountain areas are home to snow buttercups, glacier buttercups, low sandworts and other mountain flora that are becoming increasingly rare in Norway due to climate change. It would appear that thanks to its northern location Seiland is still a safe haven for these plants.

A botanist looking for rare mountain flora. Photo: Ingunn Ims Vistnes

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Siberian chives. Photo: Ingunn Ims Vistnes

Angelica in Jøfjorden. Photo: Ingunn Ims Vistnes

Roseroot. Photo: Ingunn Ims Vistnes

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Many of the plants we encounter on our excursions were previously important everyday ingredients. Fresh angelica shoots (Angelica archangelica) were an important source of vitamin C in the early summer. The angelica was peeled and eaten like rhubarb, or placed on some glass and served as a vegetable with fish. Siberian chives (Allium schoenoprasum) were used to make “løkhau”: boiled fishhead stuffed with chives and liver. Common butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) was used to make long milk, by pouring milk over the leaves and letting it stand for a day or so. This gave the milk a more pudding-like consistency and a longer life. Leaves from common lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) were used as bandages to clean infected wounds, and bark from downy birch (Betula pubescens) was used to waterproof traditional Sámi beak boots and leather clothes. Rootstocks from roseroots (Rhodiola rosea) were collected and given to the cows in early spring, when the animals needed vitamin C. The local names for roseroot are “calf dance” and “calf grass”.


Seiland’s many desolate and steep mountain areas with numerous sea cliffs are home to several types of prey. White-tailed eagles and golden eagles nest here, together with gyrfalcons, merlins, the eurasian kestrel and the rough-legged hawk. Wading birds, such as eurasian curlews, common redshanks and common sandpipers thrive in the mountain lakes and along the shore, while seabirds such as great cormorants, black guillemots and razorbills abound on the coast.

White-tailed eagle. Photo: Per Arne Askeland

Bluethroat. Photo: Per Arne Askeland

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Stoat. Photo: Per Arne Askeland

Otter. Photo: Karl-Otto Jacobsen

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Reindeer and sheep are the only large mammals on the island, although moose have occasionally been known to swim across the strait. If you are lucky you might spot an otter playing on the shore, or a hare hopping in the heather. You will also find stoats, weasels, mink and small rodents on Seiland.

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Contact us

Seiland/Sievju National Park Board
Tel. +47 414 34 401
Visiting address: Havneveien 24, Alta (same building as Alta Havn/Port of Alta and the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate)
Postal address: Seiland/Sievju National Park Board c/o Statsforvalteren i Troms og Finnmark, Postboks 700, NO-9815 Vadsø, Norway

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