- In spite of the extremely cold and dry characteristics that significantly reduce the level of human intervention, the tundra remains one of earth’s most fragile ecosystem, sensitive to disturbances and generally unable to restore itself once degraded.
- The number one cause of degradation has already been mentioned. The increase in temperature in the summertime result a global warming trend that has led to a longer snow-free season and an increase in the extent of woody vegetation. Both of these changes increase the amount of solar radiation that goes into heating rather than being reflected back to the atmosphere.
- Large-scale extractive industries (oil, gas, and minerals) in Russia and Alaska pose the greatest ecological threat to the tundra ecosystems. Recently, there has been oil extraction, which causes a risk of oil spills. There is also an increased risk of chemical pollution
- The expansion of agriculture/livestock, automobile traffic, and tourism are also creating additional pressures that have resulted in significant degradation.
- Tundra plants grow very slowly. In certain parts of the arctic tundra, erosion is emerging as a serious problem due to permafrost thaw, overgrazing, and deforestation.
- The increase in animal hunting threatens extinction of some species and the decrease of biodiversity in the Tundra as a whole.