A new partnership between Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF) aims to improve the quality and scope of Arctic biodiversity information available to science and society.

The partnership will focus on promoting efficient exchange of data between CAFF’s Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS) and GBIF.org.

CAFF, the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, provides information and data for informed decision making on Arctic biodiversity issues, for example through its Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme.  The ABDS serves as a focal point for data brought together under CAFF’s programmes, including dynamic information on status and trends in species populations, and factors driving change in the region.

Through its network of data publishers and national nodes, GBIF currently provides access to approximately three million species occurrence records in the Arctic Circle, encompassing almost 20,000 species. These data come from over 1000 datasets published by institutions in 30 countries.

The main objective of the Resolution of Cooperation (RoC) signed by CAFF and GBIF secretariats is to ensure that, to the extent possible, all data and metadata mobilized by each institution are accessible, using appropriate standards, to the users and stakeholders of both.

Specifically, the RoC includes steps to identify data each network can contribute to the other and to set up the technical mechanisms to enable this exchange while avoiding duplication.

The practical work for data exchange under the agreement has already started: with technical support from GBIF’s informatics team, CAFF has set up an installation of the GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT) through which it has published two Arctic datasets, one bringing together data from the Circumpolar Seabird Monitoring Plan, and the other showing distribution and abundance of musk ox (Ovibos moschatus) from various reports in recent decades.

Future activities will include establishing visualizations and links on the ABDS platform showing species occurrences within the CAFF boundary filtered from the data published through the GBIF network.

Through the RoC, CAFF agrees to become a GBIF affiliate organization.

Commenting on the new partnership, GBIF's Executive Secretary Donald Hobern commented: “This is a great example of how collaboration can add real value to the information brought together by complementary networks focused on biodiversity. As the exchange of data develops, users both of GBIF.org and of CAFF’s Arctic Biodiversity Data Service should observe improvements in the information relating to Arctic biodiversity, adding to the return on investment both from Arctic Council member states and GBIF’s Participant countries.”

CAFF's Chair Reidar Hindrum affirmed: “This is indeed a great example of how we are working to ensure that we make the most effective use of resources, avoid duplication of efforts and ensure the widest accessibility and availability of Arctic biodiversity data.”



Courtney Price

Communications Officer

Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)


Sampreethi Aipanjiguly

Communications Officer

GBIF Secretariat



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 

Arctic States

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Permanent Participants

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