By Tom Barry, Executive Secretary, CAFF International Secretariat and
Courtney Price, Communications Manager, CAFF International Secretariat
In 2013, the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, released the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA).
This was a landmark achievement in delivering a report which would contain the best available science informed by traditional ecological knowledge on the status and trends of Arctic biodiversity and which would also have accompanying policy recommendations for biodiversity conservation. The assessment explored the potentially dramatic consequences of climate change and other factors that adversely affect species and their habitats in the Arctic, providing critical information to policy makers. It found that large tracts of the Arctic remain relatively undisturbed, providing a unique opportunity for proactive action that can minimize or even prevent future problems that would be costly or impossible to reverse.
The Arctic Council ministers agreed to implement the seventeen recommendations articulated in the ABA Report for Policy Makers. At the April 2015 Arctic Council ministerial meeting, the Arctic states were presented with an eight-year implementation plan Actions for Biodiversity 2013–2021, an action plan that has been informed by discussions with Arctic Council countries, indigenous organizations, observer organizations and countries. This will act as the key guide to the Arctic Council biodiversity conservation in the coming years.
Although actions to implement the ABA recommendations are aimed primarily at the Arctic Council, its member states’ and permanent participants’ success in conserving Arctic biodiversity depends on actions by non-Arctic states, regional and local authorities, industry, and all who live, work and travel in the Arctic. The ABA recommendations, therefore, also provide a guide for biodiversity conservation action for authorities and organizations beyond the Arctic Council.
Graphic: 10% shorebird decline in the Americas flyway, 40% shorebird recovery in the African Eurasian flyway, 70% shorebird decline in the East Asian Australasian flyway