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Arctic Biodiversity Assessment Report Underscores Significance of Climate Change

CAFF15 May 2013: The Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) report, released at the Arctic Council Ministerial, emphasizes that climate change is the most significant driver in overall Arctic biodiversity change, and that it exacerbates other threats to Arctic biodiversity. Released by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, the report also calls for an ecosystem-based approach to management, and recommends integrating biodiversity into other policy fields.

According to CAFF, the ABA contains the best available science on Arctic biodiversity status and trends, including traditional ecological knowledge. Over 250 experts participated in the development of the report, which includes policy recommendations for conservation of Arctic biodiversity.

The report states that despite degradation of Arctic biodiversity, proactive global action now can protect undisturbed ecosystems of the Arctic, diminishing or preventing problems that might otherwise be irreversible.

According to the report, currently some ecosystems of flora and fauna are shifting North as the Arctic warms, and loss of sea ice is affecting food supplies and habitats for fauna. CAFF adds that over 21,000 species live in the Arctic region, that millions of migratory birds breed in the Arctic and fly to every continent on Earth, and that over 10% of the world's fishing catches by weight comes from the Arctic. Arctic ecosystems and species exist in mountains, tundra, freshwater, and seas.

The Secretariats of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and its relevant Agreements welcomed these findings, noting that CMS and CAFF recently signed a resolution of cooperation to better integrate efforts to protect and conserve Arctic migratory species. The African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement and CAFF signed a similar resolution on cooperation in 2012.

Sharing of information and data assessments on migratory species between the CMS Family and CAFF is a key element of the Joint Work Plan 2013-2015, which was recently developed in the context of the resolution on cooperation. [CAFF Press Release] [CMS Press Release] [Publication: Arctic Biodiversity Assessment]