Circumpolar Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan. Background paper.
"The Arctic hosts unique assemblages of organisms. The size and nature of Arctic ecosystems make them of critical importance to the biological, chemical and physical balance of the globe. Dramatic climate-related changes now underway are threatening the resiliency and sustainability of the Arctic’s biodiversity and the overall balance of its ecosystems. Continued rapid change in the Arctic will have global repercussions affecting the planet’s ecosystems and biodiversity as a whole. Maintaining the health of Arctic ecosystems is also of fundamental economic, cultural and spiritual importance to Arctic residents, many of whom maintain close ties to the sea. Current Arctic biodiversity monitoring efforts are insufficient to provide an integrated picture of the status of and trends in key species, habitats, processes, and services. Better coordination of our existing monitoring networks is urgently needed to help improve our ability to detect important trends on a timely basis, attribute these trends to their underlying causes, and provide this information to decision makers to facilitate effective and timely responses. In response to the challenges facing the Arctic and our current monitoring capacity, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment recommended that long-term Arctic biodiversity monitoring be expanded and enhanced. The Arctic Council Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group’s (CAFF) primary response to this recommendation has been the implementation of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP). The CBMP is working with scientists and local resource users from around the Arctic to harmonize and enhance long-term Arctic biodiversity monitoring efforts in order to facilitate more rapid detection, understanding, communication and response to significant trends and pressures. The Arctic’s size and complexity represents a significant challenge to detecting and attributing important biodiversity trends. This situation demands an integrated, pan-Arctic, ecosystem-based approach that not only identifies trends in biodiversity, but also the underlying causes. It is critical that this information be made widely available to those responsible for generating effective strategies for adapting to ongoing changes now taking place in the Arctic - a process that ultimately depends on rigorous, integrated, and efficient monitoring programs that have the power to detect change within a time frame of a few years to decades. Towards this end, the CBMP is facilitating an integrated, ecosystem-based approach to monitoring through the development of five Expert Monitoring Groups representing major Arctic themes (Marine, Coastal, Freshwater, Terrestrial Vegetation & Terrestrial Fauna). Each group functions as a forum for scientists, community experts and managers to promote, share, and coordinate research and monitoring activities and utilize existing data to faciliate improved and cost-effective monitoring that has a greater ability to detect and understand significant trends in Arctic biodiversity." /.../