Increased warming pushing Arctic freshwater ecosystems to the brink

PRESS RELEASE: May 7, 2019: Rovaniemi, Finland

Climate change and development threaten the health of Arctic freshwater ecosystems, with continued warming pushing cold-water species unique to the Arctic—such as the Arctic char—to the brink of regional loss, and increasing the likelihood of toxic cyanobacteria blooms, says the State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report released today.

According to the report produced by experts from the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna’s Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP), warming is reducing what can be considered as Arctic, with southern species moving northward, and cold tolerant species facing possible local extinction when they can’t adapt or compete for resources.

The report provides a circumpolar synthesis of the state of knowledge about biodiversity in Arctic lakes, rivers, and associated wetlands. It identifies changes and knowledge gaps in fish, benthic macroinvertebrates, zooplankton, algae, and macrophytes, and can provide insights into the overall health of freshwater ecosystems and their ability to provide essential services on which people rely. For the first time, experts have compiled a circumpolar database on freshwater biodiversity to keep knowledge easily updated and available. When possible, data will be made accessible on the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service.

The report also identifies Arctic countries’ efforts and gaps in monitoring key elements of Arctic ecosystems, highlighting what countries can do to improve the ability to detect and report on significant changes in the Arctic.

Specifically, the report calls for better coordination, standardization of methods, increased use of emerging technologies (such as remote sensing and DNA barcoding), improved consideration of Traditional Knowledge and Local Knowledge, better engagement with local and Indigenous communities, and a commitment to support continued development and maintenance of the CBMP.

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Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)

CAFF is the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council and consists of National Representatives assigned by each of the eight Arctic Council Member States, representatives of Indigenous Peoples' organizations that are Permanent Participants to the Council, and Arctic Council observer countries and organizations. CAFF’s mandate is to address the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, and to communicate its findings to the governments and residents of the Arctic, helping to promote practices which ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s living resources. For more information: www.caff.is

Arctic Council

The Arctic Council is a high level intergovernmental forum to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.  Arctic Council Member States are Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America. In addition to the Member States, the Arctic Council has the category of Permanent Participants who include the Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC), Aleut International Association (AIA), Gwich'in Council International (GGI), Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) and the Saami Council (SC). For more information: www.arctic-council.org 


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