In 2008, the United Nations Environment Program passed a resolution expressing ‘extreme concern’ over the impacts of climate change on Arctic indigenous peoples, other communities, and biodiversity. It highlighted the potentially significant consequences of changes in the Arctic. The Arctic Biodiversity Trends – 2010: Selected Indicators of Change report provides evidence that some of those anticipated impacts on Arctic biodiversity are already occurring. Furthermore, although climate change is a pervasive stressor, multiple stressors, such as long range transport of contaminants, harvesting of wild species, and resource development are also impacting Arctic biodiversity.
- From Introduction of Key Findings of Arctic Biodiversity Trends – 2010: Selected Indicators of Change
The Arctic Council released a new report entitled Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010: Selected Indicators of Change on May 27, 2010. The report, published by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) working group of the Arctic Council, synthesizes scientific findings on the status and trends for
22 indicators of change, including Arctic species, ecosystems, and ecosystem services.
1. Polar bears
2. Wild reindeer and caribou
3. Shorebirds – red knot
4. Seabirds – murres (guillemots)
5. Seabirds – common eiders
6. Arctic char
7. Invasive species – human-induced
8. The Arctic Species Trend Index
9. Arctic genetic diversity
10. Arctic sea-ice systems
11. Greening of the Arctic
12. Reproductive phenology in
13. Appearing and disappearing
lakes in the Arctic
14. Arctic peatlands
15. Effects of decreased
freshwater ice cover
duration on biodiversity
16. Changing distribution of
17. Impacts of human
activities on benthic habitat
18. Reindeer herding
19. Seabird harvest
20. Changes in harvest
21. Changes in protected areas
22. Linguistic diversity
Polar bears are one of the 22 indicators included in Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010. Their range is limited to areas in which the sea is ice-covered for most of the year. They are therefore particularly vulnerable to decreases in sea ice. There are approximately 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the wild, living in 19 subpopulations within the Arctic. The availability, reliability, and age of data on these subpopulations vary, but according to a 2009 assessment, one of the 19 subpopulations appears to be increasing in number, 3 are stable, and 8 are declining. Data are insufficient to provide an assessment of the other 7 subpopulations. Concerns for the future of this iconic species, and for the other 21 indicators, are discussed in the Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010 report.
Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010 is an Arctic Council contribution to the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity. A full scientific assessment building upon the report is currently in preparation and will be delivered to the Arctic Council in 2013.
The full report can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.arcticbiodiversity.is.
Distribution and current trend of polar bear subpopulations throughout the circumpolar Arctic
Key findings in the report include:
The Arctic Council, created in 1996, is a high level intergovernmental forum that promotes cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic States, in particular relating to sustainable development and environmental protection. Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants also are involved in the Council. Member States of the Arctic Council are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States.