Arctic habitats and species are in the forefront of global attention in the current climate debate. But the Arctic is also in focus as the last frontier of wilderness and exploration, scientifically and for natural mineral resources. The Arctic region plays a key role in the physical, chemical and biological balance of the globe. It encompasses relatively pristine environments, compared to the rest of the globe and serves as an ideal global barometer in monitoring changes in biodiversity, climate and the impacts of humans.
The newly released Arctic Biodiversity Assessment Report by CAFF is a major undertaking over the past six years by over 260 scientists from the Arctic countries and was presented to the Foreign Ministers of the Arctic Council countries at the Arctic Council Ministerial on May 15. UNEP-WCMC is an observer to the Arctic Council and its biodiversity working programme CAFF, and has been involved as a member of the Steering Group Committee of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment and also contributed as reviewer. The present assessment provides an up-to-date knowledge of Arctic biodiversity from scientific publications supplemented with insights from traditional knowledge holders. It will be a vital baseline for monitoring changes in Arctic biodiversity. The Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme (CBMP) of CAFF has been established with support by UNEP-WCMC and will be an ideal instrument augmenting sea ice changes in monitoring the changes in biodiversity in a rapidly changing Arctic environment.
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