Increased warming pushing Arctic freshwater ecosystems to the brink

PRESS RELEASE: May 7, 2019: Rovaniemi, Finland

Climate change and development threaten the health of Arctic freshwater ecosystems, with continued warming pushing cold-water species unique to the Arctic—such as the Arctic char—to the brink of regional loss, and increasing the likelihood of toxic cyanobacteria blooms, says the State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report released today.

According to the report produced by experts from the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna’s Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP), warming is reducing what can be considered as Arctic, with southern species moving northward, and cold tolerant species facing possible local extinction when they can’t adapt or compete for resources.

The report provides a circumpolar synthesis of the state of knowledge about biodiversity in Arctic lakes, rivers, and associated wetlands. It identifies changes and knowledge gaps in fish, benthic macroinvertebrates, zooplankton, algae, and macrophytes, and can provide insights into the overall health of freshwater ecosystems and their ability to provide essential services on which people rely. For the first time, experts have compiled a circumpolar database on freshwater biodiversity to keep knowledge easily updated and available. When possible, data will be made accessible on the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service.

The report also identifies Arctic countries’ efforts and gaps in monitoring key elements of Arctic ecosystems, highlighting what countries can do to improve the ability to detect and report on significant changes in the Arctic.

Specifically, the report calls for better coordination, standardization of methods, increased use of emerging technologies (such as remote sensing and DNA barcoding), improved consideration of Traditional Knowledge and Local Knowledge, better engagement with local and Indigenous communities, and a commitment to support continued development and maintenance of the CBMP.




On May 7b, Finland will host the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi.

Minister-level representatives from the eight Arctic States will convene to review and approve work completed under the two-year Finnish Chairmanship to improve sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. The Arctic States will be joined by delegations from the Council's indigenous Permanent Participant organizations, the Chairs of the six Working Groups, and Observers. The Ministerial will be held in the Lappi Areena in Rovaniemi, Finland.

CAFF will deliver the following products:

Brachycentrus subnubilus. Photo: Jan Hamrsky
CBMP: State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report
(summary report and science report) 

CBMP Arctic Coastal Biodiversity Monitoring Plan

CBMP headline indicators: Audit of global goose populations
Crane hires. Photo Caitlin Bailey, GFOE The Hidden Ocean 2016, Chukchi Borderlands
CBMP Strategic Plan 2018-2021
Red knot. Photo: Morten Ekker
AMBI Workplan 2019-2023 
Mining. Photo: Kai Mortensen/
Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Arctic Mining: Context, challenges and solutions for improvement
Photo: George Burba/
Scoping for Sustainable Management and Resilience of Arctic wetlands: Phase 1 report 

Marine fishes of the Arctic region 

Inspiring Arctic voices through youth: engaging youth in Arctic biodiversity 

Arctic Biodiversity Congress 


CAFF will also deliver a series of Progress Reports for activities underway:


To watch the event, click here.



An overview of the media program for foreign journalists is available at the link below.

For an overview of the Arctic Council’s history, composition and work, please read the backgrounder.

Find an overview of the Finnish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Additional resources for media.

For more information, visit the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland's page dedicated to the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting.

Rovaniemi, Finland —Over 500 scientists, Indigenous peoples, policy-makers, government officials, industry, students, civil society and more descend on Rovaniemi, Finland for a week of events associated with the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)’s Arctic Biodiversity Congress, 2018.

CAFF, the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, in partnership with the Ministry of the Environment, Finland, is organizing the Congress to promote the conservation and sustainable use of Arctic biodiversity.

The event welcomes participants from 25 countries and addresses key issues and approaches to Arctic biodiversity conservation and protection, including perspectives from the worlds of science, business, arts, culture, and politics in 54 sessions across 4 days. Additional events focus on specific focus areas and include the Arctic Environment Ministers’ Meeting, Arctic Youth Summit, and close to 20 side meetings.

Key Congress speakers include:

  • Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland
  • Tiina Sanila-Aikio, President of the Sámi Parliament of Finland
  • Aleksi Härkönen, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council
  • Sergei Zimov, North-East Scientific Station of Pacific Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Dalee Sambo Dorough, Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council
  • Melanie Virtue, Head of CMS Aquatic Species Team, Convention on Migratory Species
  • Alexander Shestakov, Head of Division, Scientific and Policy Support, Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
  • Hannele Pokka, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Environment, Finland
  • Sarah Conner and Usha Amin, BBC Natural History Unit, makers of Frozen Planet

For a full program and more information please visit the Arctic Biodiversity Congress website. Daily summary reports will be published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Earth Negotiation Bulletin.

Follow the events online

To follow the Arctic Environment Week in Rovaniemi on Twitter use:






Courtney Price

CAFF Communications Manager

+354 686 3261

Courtney EP_AT caff EP_DOT is

Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna

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: 

Meeting participants. Photo: Eugene CheahDecember 2018Over 85 participants from 20 countries and over 60 organizations flocked to the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) East Asian-Australasian Flyway Implementation Workshop in Hainan, P.R. China December 5-8, 2018 ahead of the East Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership 10th Meeting of the Parties. This was the firstworkshop of an Arctic Council Working Group held in P.R. China, after the country became an Observer to the Arctic Council in 2013.

Observers are encouraged to make relevant contributions through their engagement in the Arctic Council Working Groups, and AMBI is of particular interest to P.R. China. "The Chinese government has attached great importance to conservation of migratory birds and their habitat,” said Lu Jun, Director of the National Bird Banding Centre of China. “Migratory birds have no nationalities, and their migration is not limited by national boundaries. Keeping migratory birds safe is the responsibility of every country along the flyway. We are willing to collaborate with the Arctic Council and other countries along the flyway to guarantee the safety of migratory birds.”

The Arctic Council’s Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), in partnership with the Department of Wildlife Conservation, National Forestry and Grassland Administration of the P.R. China, the Forestry Department of Hainan Province and the National Bird Banding Center of China, held the workshop to advance work on the issues of habitat conservation and illegal hunting of migratory birds along the flyway.

“Bird migration is unique phenomena and is the shared heritage of all our countries, so it is so natural we work together on this,” said Evgeny Syroechkovskiy, Chair of AMBI and representative of the Russian Federation Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. “AMBI is focusing on addressing key threats to birds and their habitat on the flyway, which need urgent attention.”

The meeting brought together government representatives from environment and natural resources departments as well as foreign affairs departments in addition to key conservation organizations in the region. The workshop had representation from the Finnish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the US representation to the Arctic Council, the US Chairmanship of CAFF, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, the Norwegian Environment Agency, the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Department of Wildlife Conservation of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, P.R.China, the Chiangiang County Government, the National Bird Banding Centre of China, as well as Forestry Departments and/or Nature Reserves from Hainan, Guangdong, Jiangsu Hebei and Liaoning Provinces in P.R. China, academia from Beijing, Fudan, Nanjing, other Arctic Council Observer states including the Singapore National Parks Board, the Ministry of the Environment of Japan, the Republic of Korea’s National Institute of Ecology, and representatives from the Convention of Migratory Species and Department of Conservation of New Zealand, and others from organizations in India, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Myanmar.

During the meeting AMBI consulted with countries and organizations to finalize its draft 2019-2023 Work Plan for submission to the Arctic Council.

“Finland is pleased that this important AMBI event in China is organized during our Chairmanship in the Arctic Council,” said Tuuli Ojala of the Finnish Arctic Council Chairmanship team at the event. “The growing engagement of Observers is valuable for the Arctic Council’s work and its international role. In case of the AMBI project, we could say that the engagement of the Observers is indispensable.”

“The U.S. is pleased to see such excellent collaboration with Observer countries and organizations, it is an example for the entire Arctic Council on how we should work,” Julie Gourley, U.S. Senior Arctic Official said in her speech at the event. “I ask the countries represented here and by the Arctic Council to take seriously the recommendations of our experts in this area as they help guide and inform the critical decisions that need to be made to conserve Arctic birds now and for future generations.”

The meeting also highlighted the work of governments and organizations to advance conservation issues such as habitat protection and restoration, the development and implementation of species and habitat management strategies, and efforts to better understand and reduce illegal killing and hunting as they pertain to AMBI priority species including the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Red Knot, Great Knot and others. It also showcased key activities and products that have helped advance conservation in the region.

“The time is now, not years from now, to work collectively to identify the management actions needed to conserve Arctic migratory birds. Under the U.S. Chairmanship of CAFF, we have prioritized AMBI to demonstrate work based on a Flyway approach that advances, conservation, informs decision making and inspires people”, said Cindi Jacobson, U.S. Chair of CAFF. “There is a great urgency then for countries and organizations to implement these actions before it is too late.”

CAFF is the biodiversity Working Group of the Arctic Council. 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. It does so through various monitoring, assessment and expert group activities. One such assessment, the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (2013) noted that “Many Arctic migratory species are threatened by overharvest and habitat alteration outside the Arctic, especially birds along the East Asian flyway,” and launched AMBI as a response in 2015. Since then AMBI has been working with Arctic governments, in particular, Russia, Canada, U.S and Norway, as well as Arctic Council observer states in Asia, in particular Singapore, Japan, P.R. China, Republic of Korea and India, and other partners, to improve the status and secure the long-term sustainability of declining Arctic breeding migratory bird populations along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway and three other global flyways. In 2013 CAFF and EAAFP signed a Resolution of Cooperation in to better coordinate efforts to promote and protect birds along a migratory flyway, and CAFF is an Intergovernmental Partner to the EAAFP.

AMBI is grateful to the Chinese hosts and to all participants for their continued cooperation on the project. Following the publication of its new Work Plan 2019-2023 (anticipated in mid 2019). AMBI looks forward to continuing working with ever-expanding numbers of partners to advance common goals for Arctic-breeding migratory bird conservation.

Contact: Courtney Price, AMBI Global Coordinator, CAFF Communications Manager: Courtney EP_AT caff EP_DOT is

Photo: Jan van de KammThe Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, is seeking a coordinator to organize the work in the African Eurasian Flyway under the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI). The African Eurasian (AFEU) Flyway Committee Coordinator is a 100% role designed to be taken on by someone familiar with bird conservation in the region and who has experience in working with diverse stakeholder groups. This position will be divided between 60% focussed on AFEU flyway and 40% focussed on AMBI issues across the flyways, and will be based at the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat located in Wilhelmshaven, Germany.


  • Coordinate the AFEU committee and a multi-stakeholder planning team as necessary
  • Develop a flyway ‘crosswalk’ for the AFEU region
  • Develop an AMBI AFEU Implementation Strategy
  • Work with AMBI Chair, Coordinator and CAFF Secretariat to coordinate activities within AMBI
  • Liaison with partners in the region to help facilitate projects as directed by the flyway committee
  • Travel to relevant meetings to represent AMBI interests
  • Assist in organizing AMBI events in the region
  • Fundraise for both AMBI and the coordinator position


The following specifies the qualifications, experience and expertise required:

General Qualifications

  • Ability to communicate proficiently in English. Proficiency in other languages spoken in the flyway are beneficial, but not mandatory.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with others in a cross cultural environment.
  • Familiarity with issues of Arctic migratory bird conservation in the flyway.
  • A working understanding of the Arctic Council and CAFF, including roles and objectives
  • Experience and ability to host meetings, manage documentation, develop information flow and management of a team.
  • Experience in writing scientific summaries and reports.
  • Location within the relevant Flyway preferred, but not mandatory.
  • Ability to travel to relevant meeting at international locations.

General Professional Experience

  • Previous experience working to advance global migratory species and/or conservation initiatives.
  • Advanced degree in relevant field including conservation, biology, communications, international relations, governance, etc.
  • Recent experience developing international conservation teams.
  • Knowledge of the indigenous peoples in the flyway and experience working with indigenous peoples groups
  • Recent experience managing a cross cultural team.

Assignment Specific Professional Experience

  • Familiarity with AMBI Work Plan and objectives.
  • In-depth knowledge of policy framework in the flyway as it pertains to conservation, migratory species, development, human well-being and other fields of relevance to conservation.

Timeframe of commitment –  May 2018 to May 2019, with the possibility of an extension.  You will be expected to travel internationally to up to three meetings during this timeframe, including attending the Arctic Biodiversity Congress in October 2018 in Finland.

Location: The position will be based at the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat located in Wilhelmshaven, Germany.

Pay – The AFEU Coordinator will be an individual consultant to be contracted directly or through a legally incorporated company. The compensation for this position is €60,000 for 12 months 1.0 FTE.

AMBI - 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. Arctic-breeding birds use many different flyways to move from Arctic breeding grounds to overwintering or stopover sites at lower latitudes. Many bird populations are declining at an unprecedented rate for variety of reasons:

AFEU - The AMBI AFEU Committee consists of representatives from Norway, BirdLife International, the African Eurasian Waters Agreement (AEWA), and the CAFF Secretariat. The AMBI African Eurasian Flyway ( covers priority conservation issues and actions relating to migratory Arctic-breeding birds from with a focus on habitat conservation and preventing unsustainable harvest. Supporting the protection of habitat in West Africa for migratory bird species is a major focus of the work under the AEF. Other priorities include ensuring sustainable populations of Lesser White-fronted Geese are protected in collaboration with the AEWA secretariat.

To apply for this position, apply with you CV (max 4 pages) and a letter of interest outlining why your skills match the position.

Deadline for submission April 15, 2018 by 24:00 GMT. All applications should be sent to Tom Barry, the Executive Secretary at the CAFF International Secretariat via tom EP_AT caff EP_DOT is.

Arctic States

dk   ca   fi   is   no   ru   sw   usa

Permanent Participants

aac  raipon  icc   GCI Logo Vertical RGB 121x90  aia  saami_councile