Climate change, human activity increase threat of Invasive Alien Species to the Arctic

PRESS RELEASE: May 11, 2017: Fairbanks, Alaska, U.S.

A new Arctic Council strategy and action plan calls for action to curb the impending arrival in the Arctic of invasive alien species, a globally significant driver of biodiversity loss, species endangerment, ecosystem degradation and economic change.

“We have a unique opportunity in the Arctic,” says Reidar Hindrum CAFF Chair. “We can act now—decisively—to prevent and mitigate the adverse impacts of invasive alien species that plague much of the rest of the world but haven’t affected the Arctic in the same way—so far. But they are coming. That is why this is such an important strategy.

The Arctic Invasive Alien Species (ARIAS) Strategy and Action Plan, produced by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) and the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Groups, recommends priority actions that the Arctic Council and its partners are encouraged to take to protect the Arctic region from one of the significant emerging stressors: the adverse impacts of invasive alien species.

The arrival of invasive alien species will impact people who depend upon Arctic ecosystems for their livelihoods and well-being. The report calls for the Arctic Council and partners to inspire urgent and effective action, improve the knowledge base for well-informed decision-making, and to undertake prevention and early detection/rapid response initiatives.

While there are currently few invasive alien species in the Arctic, more are expected with climate change and increased human activity. Rapidly changing environmental conditions and a growing interest in resource extraction, settlement, and tourism make the Arctic region particularly vulnerable to biological invasion.


Tom Barry, CAFF Executive Secretary: tom EP_AT caff EP_DOT is +354 861-9824

Soffía Guðmundsdóttir, PAME Executive Secretary: soffia EP_AT pame EP_DOT is  +354 863 8576

The CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) Working Group, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore, the National Parks Board Singapore, and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Singapore hosted 96 experts from 25 countries in an Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) East Asian Australasian Flyway workshop in Singapore 8-10 January 2017 at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

The workshop addressed two major conservation issues affecting Arctic breeding migratory birds in the flyway: 

1) the conservation of significant sites and habitat for Arctic-breeding shorebirds, and

2) unsustainable hunting of migratory birds across the flyway.

 DSC0066 webSingapore Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Manpower, Sam Tan opened the meeting with welcoming remarks, followed by the Ambassador of Norway to Singapore, Tormod C. Endresen. CAFF was represented by Chair Reidar Hindrum (Norway) and AMBI Chair Evgeny Syroechkovskiy (Russian Federation).

The Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) is a project designed to improve the status and secure the long-term sustainability of declining Arctic breeding migratory bird populations, many of which are in alarming decline. Recognizing that these species cross international borders, the project also seeks to actively engage Arctic Council Observer States on these issues in their jurisdictions.

Arctic-breeding birds use as many as eight different flyways to move from Arctic breeding grounds to overwintering or stopover sites at lower latitudes. The Arctic Biodiversity Assessment found that "many Arctic migratory species are threatened by overharvest and habitat alteration outside the Arctic, especially birds along the East Asian flyway" and recommended to "reduce stressors on migratory species range-wide, including habitat degradation and overharvesting on wintering and staging areas and along flyways and other migration routes." CAFF is following up on these recommendations in their Action for Arctic Biodiversity 2013-2021: Implementing the recommendations from the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, where AMBI continues to be a priority.

Quick facts:

  • Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Photo: Peter and Michelle WongThere are approximately 100 breeding pairs of critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpipers left in the wild. They have declined by 90% in the past 30 years and risk extinction. They breed in Russia and travel to Southeast Asia for the winter, passing through the Yellow Sea.
  • Since the early 1990s, red knots have been declining at almost 9% per year, great knots by 4.5% per year, and bar-tailed godwits by about 7% per year in the East Asian Australasian Flyway
  • Many Arctic-breeding bird populations are declining at an unprecedented rate for variety of reasons, including:
  • destruction of coastal wetlands for land reclamation and drainage,
  • habitat degradation,
  • trapping/poaching,
  • unsustainable harvesting, and
  • climate change.

The workshop in Singapore was highlighted in the Straits Times, Zaobao, Singapore Today, Channel NewsAsia and on the website of Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

CAFF Chair Reidar Hindrum will also represent CAFF to the East Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership Meeting of the Parties (MOP9), January 11-15, 2017.

See photos from the event on CAFF's Flickr site and don't forget to follow CAFF on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


Courtney Price

CAFF Communications Manager

courtney EP_AT caff EP_DOT is



A new partnership between Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF) aims to improve the quality and scope of Arctic biodiversity information available to science and society.

The partnership will focus on promoting efficient exchange of data between CAFF’s Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS) and

CAFF, the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, provides information and data for informed decision making on Arctic biodiversity issues, for example through its Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme.  The ABDS serves as a focal point for data brought together under CAFF’s programmes, including dynamic information on status and trends in species populations, and factors driving change in the region.

Through its network of data publishers and national nodes, GBIF currently provides access to approximately three million species occurrence records in the Arctic Circle, encompassing almost 20,000 species. These data come from over 1000 datasets published by institutions in 30 countries.

The main objective of the Resolution of Cooperation (RoC) signed by CAFF and GBIF secretariats is to ensure that, to the extent possible, all data and metadata mobilized by each institution are accessible, using appropriate standards, to the users and stakeholders of both.

Specifically, the RoC includes steps to identify data each network can contribute to the other and to set up the technical mechanisms to enable this exchange while avoiding duplication.

The practical work for data exchange under the agreement has already started: with technical support from GBIF’s informatics team, CAFF has set up an installation of the GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT) through which it has published two Arctic datasets, one bringing together data from the Circumpolar Seabird Monitoring Plan, and the other showing distribution and abundance of musk ox (Ovibos moschatus) from various reports in recent decades.

Future activities will include establishing visualizations and links on the ABDS platform showing species occurrences within the CAFF boundary filtered from the data published through the GBIF network.

Through the RoC, CAFF agrees to become a GBIF affiliate organization.

Commenting on the new partnership, GBIF's Executive Secretary Donald Hobern commented: “This is a great example of how collaboration can add real value to the information brought together by complementary networks focused on biodiversity. As the exchange of data develops, users both of and of CAFF’s Arctic Biodiversity Data Service should observe improvements in the information relating to Arctic biodiversity, adding to the return on investment both from Arctic Council member states and GBIF’s Participant countries.”

CAFF's Chair Reidar Hindrum affirmed: “This is indeed a great example of how we are working to ensure that we make the most effective use of resources, avoid duplication of efforts and ensure the widest accessibility and availability of Arctic biodiversity data.”



Courtney Price

Communications Officer

Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)


Sampreethi Aipanjiguly

Communications Officer

GBIF Secretariat



Join us Sunday March 13 at the Arctic Science Summit Week for a special session on "Collaboration, Progress and Implementation of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP).”

The special session will bring together representatives from the marine, terrestrial, freshwater and coastal components of the CBMP as well as U.S. and Kingdom of Denmark CBMP co-chairs to report on progress and products and seek input and discuss opportunities for collaboration, engagement, support, linkages, and data interoperability and accessibility.

The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna’s (CAFF) chair and executive secretary will join CBMP representatives to place the importance of the CBMP in the context of wider Arctic Council work. A panel discussion comprised of international partners will identify how CAFF and the CBMP feed into and inform other regional and global processes. 

Collaboration, Progress and Implementation of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP)


Gruening room 413

9.00-9.30 Section 1: Introduction providing a brief overview of CAFF including the Action plan for implementing the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) recommendations, highlighting the CBMP as a key part of ABA implementation.

Speaker: CAFF Chair, Reidar Hindrum (Norwegian Environment Agency)

9.30-11:00 Section 2: Overview of CBMP its purpose and structure and implementation status, including examples on how CBMP outputs are being used, followed by brief intros for each monitoring group and a panel question and answer session.

Moderators: CBMP co-Chairs Tom Christensen (Aarhus University) and Jason Taylor (Bureau of Land Management). Speakers: Tom Barry (CAFF International Secretariat), Liza Jenkins, Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI), Chris Zimmerman (USGS), Rosa Meehan (ArcticTurn), Gabriela Ibarguchi (University of Calgary) and Rebecca Anderson (USGS).

11:30-12:30 Section 3: Panel discussion on how CAFF and the CBMP inform other regional and global processes and discussion on Arctic scenarios.

Moderators: Inge Thaulow (Department of Foreign Affairs, Greenland) and Gilbert Castellanos (USFWS). Speakers: Morten Rasch (INTERACT), Martin Sommerkorn (WWF Global Arctic Programme), Bob Rich (ARCUS), Denny Lassuy (North Slope Science Initiative), IUCN (speaker TBD), Global Earth Observations (speaker TBD).

White papers and statements

Poster session

  • Check out the posters available and don't miss our three CBMP related posters that will be displayed during the poster session March 16th and 17th, from 5:30-8 pm, both at the Wood Center, Second Floor Mezzanine


CBMP Co-Chairs

Tom Christensen (Aarhus University)

John Payne (Bureau of Land Management)

CAFF has developed a Webinar Series intended to explore CAFF's projects, products and activities, and provide our colleagues and partners opportunity to communicate their results directly to target audiences.

The format includes presentations followed by a question and answer period. The recordings of these webinars are available on our YouTube channel and featured on our website and social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) to reach wider audiences.


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