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Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna

9 June 2016

The Arctic is changing faster than anywhere else on Earth and CAFF is measuring the effect on plants and animals.

Map of Sea ice extent in 1980 and 2014.
Sea ice extent in 1980 and 2014.
Map of Sea ice extent in 1980 and 2014.
Sea ice extent in 1980 and 2014.

Data on the flora and fauna of the Arctic are now available through the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) Portal. More than 600 datasets are accessible for free via the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) – the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council.

With areas of the Arctic under threat from record-breaking low amounts of sea ice due to climate change and exploitation of resources, CAFF helps cooperate on species and habitat management and utilization, shares information on regulations, and facilitates better decision-making for conservation of Arctic biodiversity.

CAFF’s work is based upon cooperation between the eight Arctic countries (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States), six indigenous organizations, observer countries and organizations and other biodiversity related international conventions and organizations.

There are hundreds of biodiversity-related monitoring programs currently underway. However, this monitoring remains largely uncoordinated, which limits the ability to detect and understand circumpolar changes. Lack of coordination and technical information can impede coherent and effective decision-making.

The 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) recommended "long term Arctic biodiversity monitoring be expanded and enhanced." In response to the ACIA, the Arctic Council directed two of its working groups —  the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) and Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) to examine the report's findings and develop follow-up programs.

CAFF's primary response was to initiate the development of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) as its cornerstone program. It received Arctic Council Ministerial endorsement in 2004 (Reykjavik Declaration) and 2006 (Salekhard Declaration). The goal of the CBMP is to facilitate more rapid detection, communication, and response to the significant biodiversity-related trends and pressures affecting the circumpolar world. To ensure coordination and integration with related global initiatives, the CBMP is strategically linked to other international conservation programs and research and monitoring initiatives, including:

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