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Arctic Protected Areas Monitoring

Lofoten, Norway/ Photo: Lawrence Hislop, UNEP-GRID ArendalLofoten, Norway/ Photo: Lawrence Hislop, UNEP-GRID ArendalProtected areas represent relatively undisturbed landscapes. They are created and maintained, primarily:

  • to support the conservation of biodiversity, including the protection of rare and endangered species;
  • for the protection of important cultural heritage; and
  • for the protection of special physical features

Many protected areas combine all three attributes and are important for recreation, education and economic development.


Protected areas are important for research and monitoring because they can serve as important biophysical “benchmarks” or “control sites” where human-caused stresses are minimal, or at least well defined. These sites offer the opportunity to measure ecological integrity and monitor changes in key attributes, indicators and values.

Monitoring programs help determine whether internal or external pressures to the protected area are affecting biodiversity. Monitoring results help determine what is changing, what management actions should be taken, and how effective those management actions have been.

Birdwatching tourists in the Arctic/ Photo: Maria GavirlloBirdwatching tourists in the Arctic/ Photo: Maria GavirlloMany Arctic protected areas are facing pressures from:

  • Climate change
  • Increased human use
  • Development within and surrounding the protected area
  • Global and local contaminants
  • Loss of traditional knowledge
  • Capacity, administration and coordination

Given the importance of protected areas, the CBMP created a Protected Areas Group (in addition to the Marine, Freshwater, Terrestrial and Coastal expert groups) to identify a suite of biodiversity measures that would be commonly monitored across Arctic protected areas. Their work complements and expands on the inoperative Circumpolar Protected Areas Expert Network (CPAN). 


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