Arctic Biodiversity Assessment Highlights Rapid Changes for Arctic Flora and Fauna

27 May 2010: A new report synthesizing scientific findings on the status and trends for selected biodiversity in the Arctic indicates that unique Arctic habitats for flora and fauna, including sea ice, tundra, lakes and peatlands, have been disappearing over recent decades, and some characteristic Arctic species have shown a decline. Changes in Arctic biodiversity have global repercussions and are further creating challenges for people living in the Arctic.

Issued by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Working Group under the Arctic Council, and launched in connection with the Arctic Council Deputy Ministers meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 27 May 2010, the report "The Arctic Biodiversity Trends - 2010: Selected Indicators of Change," highlights that climate change is emerging as the most far-reaching and significant stressor on Arctic biodiversity, though contaminants, habitat change, industrial development and unsustainable harvest levels continue to have impacts. The report is based on 22 indicators and provides a snapshot of the trends being observed in Arctic biodiversity today. The polar bear is one of the most well-known species affected by changes in the Arctic, but it is not the only one. The indicators show that the Arctic has changed dramatically during recent decades and that unique Arctic habitats of flora and fauna are disappearing. Furthermore, some species of importance to Arctic people or species of global attention are declining.

The report is the Arctic Council's contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity. A full and comprehensive Arctic Biodiversity Assessment is expected to be completed in 2013. [The report website][CAFF press release]