Protected areas have long been viewed as a key element for maintaining and conserving Arctic biodiversity and the functioning landscapes upon which species depend. Arctic protected areas have been established in strategically important and representative areas, helping to maintain crucial ecological features, e.g., caribou migration and calving areas, shorebird and waterfowl staging and nesting sites, seabird colonies, and critical components of marine mammal habitats.

CAFF and the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) working groups have created an indicator report that provides an overview of the status and trends of Arctic protected areas. 



Key facts:

The extent of protected areas within the CAFF boundary has almost doubled since 1980. While progress has been made, it has not been even across ecosystems and the report does not analyse how well the suite of protected areas meet the test of being an “ecologically connected, representative, and effectivelymanaged network of protected and specially managed areas that protects and promotes the resilience of the biological diversity, ecological processes and cultural heritage” (PAME 2015) of the Arctic.



Marine Protected Areas according to IUCN categories

Terrestrial Protected Areas according to IUCN categories


Currently, in 2016, 20.2% of the Arctic’s terrestrial area and 4.7% of the Arctic’s marine areas are protected. Protected area coverage of the Arctic’s terrestrial ecosystems exceeds Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 which aims for at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water to be protected by 2020. The protected area coverage of marine areas currently falls short of the Aichi Target goal for 10% of coastal and marine areas to be protected by 2020.


Within the CAFF boundary there are 92 areas recognised under global international conventions. These include 12 World Heritage sites (three of which have a marine component) and 80 Ramsar sites, which together cover 0.9% (289,931 km2) of the CAFF area. Between 1985 and 2015, the total area covered by Ramsar sites almost doubled, while the total area designated as World Heritage sites increased by about 50% in the same time period.



This Arctic Protected Areas Indicator Report, is part of the process that responds to actions identified in both the Framework for a Pan-Arctic Network of Marine Protected Areas (PAME 2015) and Actions for Biodiversity, 2013-2021: implementing the recommendations of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (CAFF 2015). It catalogues the extent of protected areas across the Arctic and the trends regarding protected area establishment. It helps track progress towards meeting the objectives of PAME and CAFF and supporting Aichi Biodiversity Targets 1 and 11 adopted in 2010 by Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). These Targets in turn contribute towards achieving relevant targets within the Sustainable Development Goals (UNEP-WCMC and IUCN 2016).

Language not only communicates, it defines culture, nature, history, humanity, and ancestry. The indigenous languages of the Arctic have been formed and shaped in close contact with their environment. They are a valuable source of information and a wealth of knowledge on human interactions with nature is encoded in these languages. If a language is lost, a world is lost.

CAFF has developed a Linguistics Index to track status and trends of Arctic languages.

The future is bleak for the majority of the languages currently spoken in the Arctic. If no action is taken, most are likely to become extinct in the next few generations. Twenty-one Arctic languages have become extinct since the 1800s and 10 of these extinctions have taken place after 1990, indicating an increasing rate of language extinction.

Twenty-eight languages classified as critically endangered are in dire need of attention before they, too, are lost forever. Over 70% of the Arctic’s indigenous languages are spoken only in single countries, and so are particularly exposed to the policies of a single government bringing with it the potential perhaps, for more effective conservation of these languages, as no cross border efforts are required. The remaining languages are spread across a number of jurisdictions and are therefore subject to differing approaches when it comes to addressing their revitalization.

Language revitalization in the Arctic is possible, and there are multiple examples to prove it. However, whether it is sufficiently important to invest the time and resources needed to make revitalization a reality, is a question that politicians in the Arctic need to ask themselves sooner rather than later. They will face in the future increasing pressure from the indigenous peoples they represent to take action. Many Arctic indigenous groups have already begun working on language revitalization, viewing it as an important component of their identity. The permanent participants of the Arctic Council look to political leaders to implement policies which will help them promote and sustain their indigenous languages

Linguistics and Languages data

Access maps, graphics and data on Arctic languages on CAFF's Arctic Biodiveristy Data Service (ABDS).

IndicesInformation on Arctic biodiversity, human stressors, and natural changes is widely scattered among scientists, government institutions, and northern communities and available only in a piecemeal fashion. An integrated picture of the status of and trends in key species, habitats, processes, services and ecosystem integrity in the Arctic and along relevant migratory routes is not fully known.

To facilitate targeted and consistent reporting, the CBMP has chosen a suite of indices and indicators that provide a comprehensive picture of Arctic biodiversity, from species and habitats to ecosystem processes and ecological services. The suite of indices and indicators can be used to report on the current state of Arctic biodiversity at various scales and levels of detail.

Satellite data is underutilized in the Arctic. There is a desire among the various science disciplines to use remote sensing to support ongoing biodiversity assessments and monitoring. In addition, remote sensing data also has value for site-specific and regional applications.

CAFF, through the CBMP is creating a framework to harness remote sensing potential for use in Arctic biodiversity monitoring and assessment activities and to produce a series of satellite-based remote sensing products focussing on the circumpolar Arctic.

MODIS satellite products of relevance to  Arctic processes are being converted to a more Arctic-friendly projection, facilitating a top-of-the-world analysis perspective.

Satellite products are being developed for use by different stakeholder groups and products will be organized by terrestrial, marine, coastal, and freshwater disciplines. Landsat images will be used to generate additional remote sensing products at fine scale.

The Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) is assisting CAFF on selecting and providing MODIS satellite products for this system. This is an ongoing effort that will continue to evolve and improve over time.


From CAFF's Webinar series, listen to the project team present their results and next steps:




Cursory analyses have been conducted to display the potential of the MODIS suite of products in studying the pan-Arctic ecosystem.

CAFF is working wtih the Arctic Spatial Data Infrastructure (ASDI) and the MTRI to make this information available on the  Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS).

These include early warning indicators such as:

Sea surface temperature

Land surface temperature

Snow covered area

Marine net primary productivity

Marine chlorophyll-a

Land cover type


Colored Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM)






Arctic States

dk   ca   fi   is   no   ru   sw   usa

Permanent Participants

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