PRESS RELEASE: 20 May 2021: Reykjavik, Iceland

Instagram squareArctic plants, insects, birds and land mammals are experiencing wide ranging and diverse effects from climate change. The timing of key life events, changing habitats, and the introduction of new predators and potentially new diseases are among the impacts described in a new report based on long-term biodiversity monitoring from around the Arctic. 

The State of the Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Report provides the most comprehensive circumpolar synthesis to date about biodiversity on Arctic lands. Dozens of experts from across the Arctic produced the report under the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP), the cornerstone program of the Arctic Council’s Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group. 

Species from southern ecosystems, such as red fox, moose, and voles are moving into the Arctic, and are expected to push Arctic species northwards, creating an “Arctic squeeze.” 

Changing frequency, intensity and timing of extreme weather events such as winter rain and thaws make it hard for some species such as lemmings and caribou/reindeer to access food. Increased frequency of heavy rain events, and warm temperatures causing massive blackfly outbreaks, have killed Arctic peregrine falcon chicks. The effectsof such incidents on wildlife populations are unknownat this time.

These changes cascade through the ecosystem and may affect services that nature provides for people, such as pollination, nutrient cycling and food.Changes in culturally important food resources have implications on the food security and cultures of Indigenous Peoples and Arctic residents

While large data gaps make it difficult to summarize circumpolar trends, the report says:

  • There has been increased growth and encroachment of shrubs and trees in parts of the low Arctic. Plant abundance remained mainly stable, but when changes occurred, shrubs, mosses and lichens were most affected.
  • Important pollinating flies decreased 80% between 1996 and 2014 at a site in East Greenland. 
  • More than half of the terrestrial Arctic bird populations have at least one population in decline. 
  • More than half of all wader species are declining, but there is large variation across flyways with 88% of populations declining in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, compared with 70% of populations stable or increasing in the African-Eurasian Flyway. 
  • Nearly half of geese species are increasing. 
  • Circumpolar populations of caribou/reindeer have declined since the 1990s, with the most dramatic decreases observed for migratory tundra and forest caribou/reindeer populations even as some island or mountain populations remain stable. 

The report also describes the status of terrestrial biodiversity monitoring around the Arctic, highlighting ways to improve detection and reporting on significant changes in the Arctic. The report calls for better coordination, standardization of methods, and improved use of Indigenous Knowledge, Local Knowledge, and citizen science. 

For more information please visit the State of the Arctic Terrestrial Biodiveristy Report.

Wetlands 1PRESS RELEASE: 20 May 2021: Reykjavik, Iceland

A new circumpolar report outlines 20 recommendations to protect and sustain Arctic wetlands--globally important wildlife habitats that store massive amounts of carbon and provide vital ecosystem services and are increasingly at risk from climate change and human disturbance.   

The report says climate-driven permafrost thaw and increased drought conditions impacting Arctic wetland ecosystems will cause greater fire occurrences and shifts in hydrological flows. Sea level change and decline is increasing coastal erosion. Thawing permafrost is projected to transform peatlands from a net sink of greenhouse gases to a net source lasting for several centuries. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to limit these impacts, the report says, along with increased conservation and restoration activities, streamlined governance, better knowledge use, additional classification, mapping and monitoring and coordinated action.

Almost half the world’s wetlands are in the Arctic, where they make up as much as 60% of all Arctic ecosystems. Although most Arctic wetlands currently remain relatively intact, these crucial ecosystems are changing due to climate-change and growing pressures from increased human presence. 

The report, The Resilience and Management of Arctic Wetlands, is designed to maintain and strengthen the resilience of Arctic wetlands and showcase that effective management of wetlands, including conservation and restoration efforts, holds enormous potential to contribute significantly to climate adaptation and mitigation, and conservation. Many of these findings and recommendations are highly relevant both within and outside the Arctic, and Arctic States can act as role models for sustainable use of wetlands.

For further information: 

Mining Progress report final 2021PRESS RELEASE: 20 May 2021: Reykjavik, Iceland

progress report released by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Working Group of the Arctic Council outlined potential next steps for advancing the "mainstreaming" of biodiversity in the Arctic mining sector and underscored the importance of engaging Indigenous communities in ongoing discussions. The proposed actions were identified by representatives from government agencies, the mining sector, and environmental organizations.

The goal of CAFF's Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Arctic Mining (MBAM) project is to provide guidance and support for the incorporation of biodiversity objectives and provisions into plans, operations, and other aspects of mining activities in the Arctic. Since 2017, CAFF has engaged hundreds of experts on this topic, including through a survey and online panels held during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Participants from across the Arctic emphasized the importance of having opportunities for mining companies, government, and environmental organizations, and scientists to continue their dialogue. This effort is unique among other efforts to mainstream biodiversity worldwide because of its focus on the circumpolar Arctic.

biodiversity is impacted by multiple factors, including climate change, infrastructure development, and resource extraction. To address these factors and protect Arctic biodiversity, CAFF is encouraging all those working on development activities in the Arctic to incorporate biodiversity considerations in their planning and operations, a process known as mainstreaming. 

While a wide variety of industries engage in activities in the Arctic, CAFF began first working with the mining sector in 2017. CAFF seeks to work in partnership with others to identify and implement new cooperative efforts to improve public understanding of Arctic species and habitats and advance sustainable development across the Arctic.

For further information: 


Youth Strategy CoverPRESS RELEASE: 20 May 2021: Reykjavik, Iceland

The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) has released its six-year Youth Engagement Strategy to engage youthin the Arctic Council’s conservation work. 

The strategy focuses on opportunities for working with youth from school age through early-career experts and was developed with direct input from Arctic youth leaders who served as key advisors. 

The Youth Engagement Strategy identifies five primary goals:

  • Youth are engaged in the work of CAFF and Arctic biodiversity conservation to their full potential.
  • Youth voices and perspectives are empowered to advance the goals of CAFF in the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, international collaboration, and raising public awareness of Arctic issues.
  • Arctic youth are given access to diverse learning and leadership opportunities in which their perspectives are valued and respected, and their skills and effectiveness are expanded.
  • Opportunities for youth engagement and increasing levels of leadership continue to expand.
  • Arctic youth are engaged in conservation, raising public awareness, and promoting Arctic biodiversity in their own home countries and in collaboration with other Arctic nations. 

Over the next six years CAFF will work with Arctic states, youth organizations, and other partners to expand opportunities for youth, support Arctic youth leaders, and increase the number of youths engaged in CAFF actions, including, for example, through supporting international exchanges, summits and conference participation, internships, and youth advisory roles. 

Youth offer unique perspectives and innovative ideas for conservation, as well as holding a critical stake in ensuring long-term community resilience. Meaningful youth involvement is critical to achieving CAFF’s conservation goals.

For further information: 

COver webOur partner in the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI), the National Institute of Ecology (NIE) has just released "The Spoon-billed Sandpiper's Special Journey", a children’s storybook promoting awareness of this species, the threats they face, and the importance of international cooperation for Arctic-breeding migratory bird conservation.

The book is an illustrated fairy tale with supplementary information to aid educators It introduces the difficult journey of a critically endangered migratory bird species (the Spoon- billed Sandpiper) along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. In the fairy tale, ecological concepts relevant to migratory species, such as predators, prey, and changing environments for migratory species are explained in an easy-to-understand manner. Supplementary information introduces the Arctic Council, CAFF, the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI).

The NIE developed the storybook as part of their active involvement in AMBI . The book is available in Korean and English, with the English version reviewed in cooperation with AMBI. It is hoped that this book will be produced in multiple languages and used as outreach, education, and awareness-raising materials to convey important messages on migratory bird conservation to children.

For more information contact the International Cooperation Department of the NIE: nieict130 EP_AT gmail EP_DOT com

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