Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity Working Group of the Arctic Council, met for their bi-annual meeting in Kirkenes, Norway from February 2-4. During the meeting meaningful progress was made on several ongoing initiatives such as the Arctic Invasive Alien Species project which will be presented to Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials at the upcoming meeting 16-17 March in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Attendees at the meeting included representatives from all eight Arctic Council Member States, two indigenous Permanent Participant organizations (the Saami Council and the Inuit Circumpolar Council), and seven accredited Arctic Council Observer states and organizations.

Delegates were updated on the progress of the current priority project State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report (SAMBR). The Marine Steering Group of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP), the cornerstone program of CAFF, is producing the SAMBR as the first major reporting product from the implementation of the CBMP’s Arctic Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan. Where possible, it will present baselines and trends in Arctic marine biodiversity at different trophic levels and Arctic Marine Areas that have been identified in the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan. The SAMBR report is set to be a major CAFF deliverable for the spring 2017 Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Fairbanks.

In addition, options to follow-up on the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) were considered and the Observer delegate for South Korea presented a recent translation of the AMBI Work Plan 2015-2019 into Korean (to be published on CAFF’s publications page shortly). 

The popular CAFF Educational Toolkits for schoolchildren and teachers on Life Linked to Tundra, Life Linked to Spring, and Life Linked to Ponds have now been translated into French, Inuktitut, and Russian, with more translations in progress and a potential expansion of the educational effort was discussed.

After the meeting ended, delegates were invited to a “Lavvu dialogue” hosted by the Association of World Reindeer Herders (AWRH), an Arctic Council Observer organization. Participants were invited into a traditional Saami-style tent called a lavvu and had the opportunity to learn from several local reindeer herders about their traditions and livelihoods. While everyone tasted specialty dishes made of reindeer meat, the reindeer herders expressed both their hopes and their concerns for the future in a changing Arctic.

View and download the CAFF group photo from Flickr.