Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna CAFF 1992 wwwcaffis

In 1991, the Arctic countries adopted an Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS), which was later integrated in the Arctic Council (which was established in 1996). One important issue that was recognized in the AEPS was the conservation of Arctic flora and fauna and the need to facilitate the exchange of information and to coordinate the research on species and habitats of flora and fauna.

As a result, the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) was formed in 1992 as one of the working groups of the Arctic Council. CAFF is a distinct forum of Arctic professionals, indigenous peoples' representatives, observer countries, and organizations that discusses and addresses circumpolar Arctic conservation issues. Its primary role is to advise the Arctic governments on conservation matters and sustainable use issues of international significance and common concern.

CAFF sponsors a wide variety of projects, including a circumpolar network of protected areas, documentation of traditional ecological knowledge, an assessment of the conservation value of sacred sites of indigenous peoples of northern Russia, the circumpolar vegetation map, circumpolar expert networks for monitoring key species, an atlas of rare endemic vascular plants of the Arctic, and an assessment of the conservation status of Arctic migratory birds.

Monitoring activities on Arctic biodiversity are an important part of the CAFF program. The long-term objective of CAFF is to integrate circumpolar biodiversity monitoring with the circumpolar physiochemi-cal monitoring activities that the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP; www.amap.no) perform. A workshop on a Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme was held in Reykjavik in 2000. The workshop decided to launch (voluntary) expert monitoring networks on important biota elements, for which there is already national and regional interest (reindeer/caribou; Arctic plants—ITEX, waders, Arctic char, ringed seal, and seabirds). The initial mandate of the networks is to explore the interest and opportunities for circumpolar collaboration within the broader context of a Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Network.

In 2000, the CAFF Biodiversity Monitoring Support Group was established to provide management support to CAFF's Expert Networks for monitoring circumpolar species and habitats of key importance. In 2001, the publication "Arctic Flora and Fauna—Status and Conservation" was published by CAFF. Other significant CAFF publications include the Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map (see separate entry) and the Atlas of Rare Endemic Vascular Plants of the Arctic. These publications show different trends over time of Arctic animal populations (both increases and decreases) with a surprisingly high contribution to the Arctic flora of rare and endemic plant species, particularly in Beringia.

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