The CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) Working Group, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore, the National Parks Board Singapore, and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Singapore hosted 96 experts from 25 countries in an Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) East Asian Australasian Flyway workshop in Singapore 8-10 January 2017 at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

The workshop addressed two major conservation issues affecting Arctic breeding migratory birds in the flyway: 

1) the conservation of significant sites and habitat for Arctic-breeding shorebirds, and

2) unsustainable hunting of migratory birds across the flyway.

 DSC0066 webSingapore Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Manpower, Sam Tan opened the meeting with welcoming remarks, followed by the Ambassador of Norway to Singapore, Tormod C. Endresen. CAFF was represented by Chair Reidar Hindrum (Norway) and AMBI Chair Evgeny Syroechkovskiy (Russian Federation).

The Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) is a project designed to improve the status and secure the long-term sustainability of declining Arctic breeding migratory bird populations, many of which are in alarming decline. Recognizing that these species cross international borders, the project also seeks to actively engage Arctic Council Observer States on these issues in their jurisdictions.

Arctic-breeding birds use as many as eight different flyways to move from Arctic breeding grounds to overwintering or stopover sites at lower latitudes. The Arctic Biodiversity Assessment found that "many Arctic migratory species are threatened by overharvest and habitat alteration outside the Arctic, especially birds along the East Asian flyway" and recommended to "reduce stressors on migratory species range-wide, including habitat degradation and overharvesting on wintering and staging areas and along flyways and other migration routes." CAFF is following up on these recommendations in their Action for Arctic Biodiversity 2013-2021: Implementing the recommendations from the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, where AMBI continues to be a priority.

Quick facts:

  • Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Photo: Peter and Michelle WongThere are approximately 100 breeding pairs of critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpipers left in the wild. They have declined by 90% in the past 30 years and risk extinction. They breed in Russia and travel to Southeast Asia for the winter, passing through the Yellow Sea.
  • Since the early 1990s, red knots have been declining at almost 9% per year, great knots by 4.5% per year, and bar-tailed godwits by about 7% per year in the East Asian Australasian Flyway
  • Many Arctic-breeding bird populations are declining at an unprecedented rate for variety of reasons, including:
  • destruction of coastal wetlands for land reclamation and drainage,
  • habitat degradation,
  • trapping/poaching,
  • unsustainable harvesting, and
  • climate change.

The workshop in Singapore was highlighted in the Straits Times, Zaobao, Singapore Today, Channel NewsAsia and on the website of Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

CAFF Chair Reidar Hindrum will also represent CAFF to the East Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership Meeting of the Parties (MOP9), January 11-15, 2017.

See photos from the event on CAFF's Flickr site and don't forget to follow CAFF on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


Courtney Price

CAFF Communications Manager

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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:

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: 

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Permanent Participants

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