The Arctic Biodiversity Assessment


The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council has released the “Arctic Biodiversity Assessment,” a report containing the best available science informed by traditional ecological knowledge on the status and trends of Arctic biodiversity and accompanying policy recommendations for biodiversity conservation.

Arctic musk ox © Lars Holst Hansen /

The Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA), involving over 260 scientists, has been produced by some of the world’s leading experts and was presented to the Foreign Ministers of the Arctic Council countries at the Arctic Council Ministerial on 15 May. This major circumpolar effort provides a much needed description of the state of biodiversity in the Arctic and:

  • creates a baseline for use in global and regional assessments of Arctic biodiversity
  • 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 Arctic Council, established in 1996 as a high level intergovernmental forum, provides a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States (Canada, Finland, Denmark with Greenland and the Faroes, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, USA), with the involvement of different Arctic indigenous communities, on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic region (

The recommendations from the ABA will help shape Arctic conservation in the years to come and recommend the safeguarding of important habitats such as wetlands. It articulates how the environment is changing and signals to policymakers what needs to be done to secure the ecosystems and species that people rely on for life and livelihood. Arctic biodiversity is being degraded, but decisive action taken now can help sustain the vast, relatively undisturbed ecosystems of tundra, mountains, fresh water and seas and the valuable services they provide, says the report. This globally unique opportunity for proactive action can minimize or prevent problems that would be costly or impossible to reverse in the future. 

In February 2013, Ramsar's Senior Regional Advisor for Europe attended CAFF's biennial meeting in Yakutsk on the shores of the frozen Lena river in Siberia (see report here). The meeting served to also explore best ways of cooperation between CAFF and Ramsar in a terrestrial area of which more than 60% is wetland, with currently 68 designated Ramsar Sites. Working together, CAFF and Ramsar will be able to better understand changes in the fragile and unique Arctic ecosystems and their services.

More information here:

Back to top
Follow us 
Ramsar Awards 

The Convention today

Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

Ramsar Secretariat

Rue Mauverney 28
CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 22 999 0170
Fax: +41 22 999 0169
Map: click here

Ramsar Forum: subscribe