This is Section 10.2.8 of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
Lead Author: Michael B. Usher; Contributing Authors:Terry V. Callaghan, Grant Gilchrist, Bill Heal, Glenn P. Juday, Harald Loeng, Magdalena A. K. Muir, Pål Prestrud
The Arctic Council, which includes Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States of America, and permanent participants representing Arctic organizations of indigenous peoples, maintains a program for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF).
In terms of conserving arctic ecosystems and habitats, CAFF recommended in 2002 that the overall goal of conserving Arctic ecosystems and habitats should be "to maintain and enhance ecosystem integrity in the Arctic and to avoid habitat fragmentation and degradation". This goal is elaborated by recognizing the holistic nature of biodiversity conservation, including not just the flora and fauna, but also the physical environment and the socio-economic environment of people living within the area. It is the socio-economic factors that particularly affect arctic ecosystems, exerting pressures that have the potential to degrade habitats, to force declines in population sizes and numbers of species, and to reduce the functioning of ecosystems. Habitat fragmentation is probably the greatest threat to arctic ecosystems, which seem particularly ill-equipped to deal with it.
Although an important means of conserving the natural and cultural heritage is through protected areas, it is not a panacea. The arctic Council, through CAFF, have promoted the establishment of the Circumpolar Protected Area Network (CPAN), which aims to link protected areas throughout the Arctic; to ensure adequate representation of the various biomes; and to increase the public’s understanding of the benefits and values of protected areas throughout the Arctic.
This is a useful start to the conservation of the arctic biodiversity, but many productive areas, such as coastal zones and marine ecosystems, are currently very underrepresented in the CPAN. At best, protected areas will only cover a relatively small proportion of the total land and sea area of the Arctic, and so conservation thinking is required beyond the established protected areas. This means that conservation of biodiversity must be integral to all aspects of social policy, including health and education of local people, planning for visitors and the associated developments, control and regulation of developments, and all aspects of the use of land, water, and air. Biodiversity conservation must be an important aspect of thinking, or as CAFF stated, there needs to be a principle of "conservation first".
CAFF recommended that "the Arctic States in collaboration with indigenous people and communities, other Arctic residents, and stakeholders (1) identify important freshwater, marine and terrestrial habitats in the Arctic and ensure their protection through the establishment of protected areas and other appropriate conservation measures, and (2) promote an ecosystems approach to resource use and management in the circumpolar Arctic, through, inter alia, the development of common guidelines and best practices". This provides a way forward, but the generalities need to be expanded into the detail needed for the practical application of biodiversity conservation alongside the sustainable development of the Arctic, and the sustainable use of its resources, for the benefit of local people and visitors alike. A consensus approach, as fostered at an Arctic Council meeting on freshwater, coastal, and marine environments, needs to be promoted and developed on a circumpolar basis.
Chapter 10: Principles of Conserving the Arctic’s Biodiversity
10.2 Conservation of arctic ecosystems and species
10.2.1 Marine environments
10.2.2 Freshwater environments
10.2.3 Environments north of the treeline
10.2.4 Arctic boreal forest environments
10.2.5 Human-modified habitats
10.2.6 Conservation of arctic species
10.2.7 Incorporating traditional knowledge
10.2.8 Implications for biodiversity conservation
10.3 Human impacts on the biodiversity of the Arctic
10.4 Effects of climate change on the biodiversity of the Arctic
10.5 Managing biodiversity conservation in a changing environment
- ^CAFF, 2002a. Arctic Flora and Fauna: Recommendations for Conservation. Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, International Secretariat, Akureyri.
- ^Muir, M.A.K.,T. van Pelt and K.Wohl, 2003. Ecosystem-based approaches for conserving Arctic biodiversity. Discussion paper for the Arctic Council's October 2003 Arctic Marine Strategic Plan Workshop (www.pame.is).