Key findings

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Read the nine key findings of the Report for Policy Makers

Policy recommendations

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Read the recommendations for policy arising from the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment


Download the policy report

Download the Report for Policy Makers



 Arctic biodiversity is being degraded, but decisive action taken now can help sustain vast, relatively undisturbed ecosystems of tundra, mountains, fresh water and seas and the valuable services they provide.


Climate change is by far the most serious threat to Arctic biodiversity and exacerbates all other threats.



Many Arctic migratory species are threatened by overharvest and habitat alteration outside the Arctic, especially birds along the East Asian flyway.


Disturbance and habitat degradation can diminish Arctic biodiversity and the opportunities for Arctic residents and visitors to enjoy the benefits of ecosystem services.


Pollution from both long-range transport and local sources threatens the health of Arctic species and ecosystems.


There are currently few invasive alien species in the Arctic, but more are expected with climate change and increased human activity.


Overharvest was historically the primary human impact on many Arctic species, but sound management has successfully addressed this problem in most, but not all, cases.


Current knowledge of many Arctic species, ecosystems and their stressors is fragmentary, making detection and assessment of trends and their implications difficult for many aspects of Arctic biodiversity.


The challenges facing Arctic biodiversity are interconnected, requiring comprehensive solutions and international cooperation.

The purpose of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) is to synthesize and assess the status and trends of biological diversity in the Arctic. It identifies the current status of and historical trends in population size and distribution of Arctic species and, where available, presents projections of future change. As data on this scale are only available for a few well-known species and ecosystems, it is not possible to provide a comprehensive accounting of status and trends of all Arctic biodiversity. It is possible, however, to discuss broad trends in habitat condition and extent, ecosystem function, and overall biodiversity.

The ABA provides a much-needed description of the state of biodiversity in the Arctic. It:

  • creates a baseline for use in global and regional assessments of Arctic biodiversity which will inform and guide future Arctic Council work;
  • provides up-to-date knowledge gathered from scientific publications supplemented with insights from traditional knowledge holders;
  • identifies gaps in the data record;
  • describes key mechanisms driving change; and
  • presents science-based suggestions for action on addressing major pressures on Arctic biodiversity.

The ABA consists of four components: (1) Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010 – Selected Indicators of Change, which provided a preliminary snapshot of status and trends of Arctic biodiversity; (2) Arctic Biodiversity Assessment: status and trends in Arctic biodiversity, a comprehensive, peer-reviewed scientific assessment of Arctic biodiversity, and synthesis document (3) a Traditional Ecological Knowledge Compendium and (4) a Summary for Policy Makers aimed at making the science accessible for decision-makers and identifying actions to address key findings.

The unprecedented changes being experienced in the Arctic emphasize the importance and urgency of getting information to decision-makers in a timely manner. To do so requires easily accessible, comprehensive data, coordinated and consistent monitoring, up-to-date assessments of trends and informed responses. The synthesis of status and trends of Arctic biodiversity in the ABA will serve as a baseline against which further change can be measured. The Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) is the Conservation of Arctic Fauna and Flora’s (CAFF’s) primary effort to monitor biodiversity on an ongoing basis to provide relevant information to decision makers about the changes that are occurring, and their underlying causes. Specifically, the CBMP is developing and implementing ecosystem monitoring programs for freshwater, marine and terrestrial environments and is planning one for coastal environments. Resulting information is being made accessible by publishing indicators on the CBMP (and other) websites, via the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service, and through other publications such as the annual Arctic Report Card. These efforts are intended to help shorten the time between detection of changes, reporting and effective policy responses.


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