May 18, 1968-January 25, 2022

Dr. Evgeny Syroechkovskiy. Photo: Julia Darkova

It is with heavy hearts that CAFF mourns the passing of Dr. Evgeny Syroechkovskiy.

Dr. Evgeny Syroechkovskiy was a long-standing and essential fixture in Arctic science, Russian ornithology and migratory bird flyway conservation. He was a world authority on bird conservation, and the world relied on him. He was instrumental in countless conservation successes in the Arctic and beyond.

Dr. Syroechkovskiy first became involved in CAFF over 10 years ago via its Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme. He served as CAFF Chair during the 2011–2013 Russian Federation chairmanship, the conclusion of which was marked by the successful release of CAFF’s Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, a seminal publication to which he also contributed his extensive knowledge. He spearheaded the development of CAFF’s Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI), encouraging the Arctic Council to address the conservation of declining populations of Arctic-breeding birds. He knew the Arctic Council was in a unique position to bring together diverse actors with a common goal to protect species that connect us all.

“Evgeny had great passion, energy and perseverance in the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, and the skills, knowledge and networks needed to succeed,” said Mia Rönkä, CAFF Chair. “Evgeny’s presence and character made an unforgettable impression. He will be missed and remembered in CAFF, in the Arctic and beyond. His work lives on in Arctic biodiversity conservation, and we will continue his work.”

His contributions to CAFF built on his life’s work. Dr. Syroechkovskiy frequented the Russian Arctic, studying migratory birds and their breeding grounds for over 35 years, carrying on his family’s legacy of Arctic nature conservation. The rapid population decline in several species concerned him greatly. His passion, in particular, revolved around the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Spoonies). In the early 2000s, he and colleagues sounded the alarm on its dramatic population decline; over 90 percent gone in 40 years. He initiated field work in Chukotka to further investigate this small bird with the charismatic bill. The precious Spoonie would most likely be extinct if not for his efforts, not least to: help develop and then chair the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force under the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership; secure the species as a flagship for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway; and help develop in the “headstarting” program, where scientists keep careful watch over new generations of Spoonies to protect against the elements and predators. He helped build an international network of researchers and conservationists passionate about this species, with enthusiasts dotting the globe.

Dr. Syroechkovskiy was a giant in Russian ornithology and nature conservation. He was director general of BirdsRussia, deputy director of the All-Russian Research Institute of Environmental Protection, and advisor to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation. He implemented bilateral agreements between Russia and several Asian nations. Dr. Syroechkovskiy’s reach was truly global. CAFF Secretariat staff would catch up with him across time zones and countries, following his dispatches from across the world, as he worked across cultures and languages to rally scientists and politicians towards conservation.

“Evgeny was such a strong character, a great friend and a pleasure to know and work with. He had a huge presence, with enormous energy, commitment and passion for conservation, especially his beloved Spoon-billed Sandpipers,” said Tom Barry, CAFF Executive Secretary.

“Evgeny was a force. Watching him work and listening to him talk, you knew this man was doing exactly what he should be doing. He was passionate,” said Courtney Price, AMBI Global Coordinator. “I will miss him. He was a lot of fun to be around. I know I will look back with gratitude at the time I was lucky enough to spend with Evgeny.”

It is an immense loss to many at CAFF. Dr. Syroechkovskiy had boundless energy, a wonderful sense of humor, a big personality, and such passion for his work. In meetings and collaborations he was driven, ready with encouragement, knowledge and strategy to shape projects and their deliverables. Afterwards, he regaled with entertaining stories, heartfelt speeches, the occasional song, and always shared celebratory libations. His passing is a great loss to us all and we will all miss our dear friend and essential colleague.

We send our deepest condolences to his wife and scientific partner Elena Lappo, daughter Anna Syroechkovskaya, and his wide network of friends and family.

Dr. Syroechkovskiy’s family has set up a Facebook page where friends and colleagues may share photos and memories. Please feel free to share your memories of Evgeny here.

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.

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: 

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: 

Wetlands 1

Please join the following COP26 side events where CAFF is engaged which focus on communicating the Key Findings and Recommendations from the Resilience & Management of Arctic Wetlands (RAW) project released at the May 2021 Arctic Council Ministerial

4 November 16.00 - 17.00: GMT in the Cryosphere Pavilion

Resilience & Management of Permafrost Wetlands

Wetlands and peatlands cover large areas in the Arctic permafrost region, and are globally important as long-term carbon sinks, as wildlife habitats and as migration pathways. At broad scales, human emission reductions is the only way to prevent widespread permafrost thaw, but at the landscape scale, effective management of wetlands can contribute significantly to climate adaptation and mitigation and conservation of biodiversity. In May 2021, The Resilience & Management of Arctic Wetlands project delivered a suite of Key Findings and Policy Recommendations to the Foreign Ministers of the Arctic States. This session presents and discusses these findings, including indigenous perspectives.


  • Gustaf Hugelius, CAFF/ Stockholm University. Introduction and presentation of the CAFF RAW project Key Findings and Recommendations. (speaker and panellist)
  • Dalee Sambo Dorough, Inuit Council Circumpolar Council International Chair (speaker and panellist)
  • Marcus Carson, Stockholm Environment Institute (speaker and panellist)
  • Name tbc, Inuit Hunter (panellist)
  • This event can be viewed online here

Friday 05 November 16.00 - 16.50: GMT in the Nordic Pavilion

Wetland/Peatland conservation, restoration, and management: from Scotland to the Arctic

Effective conservation, restoration, and management of wetlands, including peatlands, holds enormous potential to contribute to climate adaptation and mitigation, and conservation of biodiversity. Here, policy makers and experts from Scotland and Arctic states will explore the challenges and opportunities that are emerging as we collectively seek to protect and restore these crucial ecosystems.


  • Tobias Salathe (tbc), Ramsar (chair and moderator)
  • Marie McAllan, Scottish Government – Minister for Environment and Land Reform (speaker and panellist)
  • Terhi Lehtonen, State Secretary at the Ministry for the Environment, Finland (speaker and panellist)
  • Gustaf Hugelius, CAFF/Stockholm University (speaker and panellist)
  • Andrew Coupar, NatureScot – Policy and Advice Manager, Uplands, and Peatlands (panellist)
  • This event can be viewed online here

For further information: 

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